This book introduces life history evolution to postgraduate students just beginning their research in population biology, ecology, or evolutionary biology. It discusses major analytical tools, gives examples of their applications, and provides problems for discussion at the end of each chapter. It will interest all biologists wishing to understand the evolution of the life cycle and the causes of phenotypic variation in fitness, and it contains the seeds of applications of life history theory to population dynamics, behaviour, and community ecology. Care is taken in Part I to build up the tools needed for a well-rounded evolutionary explanation: demography, quantitative genetics, reaction norms, trade offs and phylogenetic/comparative analysis. Part II discusses the evolution of major life history traits. This is a comprehensive, up-to-date text in a field that holds a central position in modern ecology and evolution.
`Although aimed at advanced students, this work will be read much more widely, because the basics of life-history theory pervade all pure and applied branches of ecology, ethology, and evolution. Stearns sets us on the right track for understanding interactions between traits'.
`The text flows well from start to finish because of clear summaries in, and connections between, the chapters. This is especially true of the first section on the fundamentals, which contains a lucid discussion of concepts such as natural selection, adaptation, and fitness.'
`... an excellent read. Nature
`One of the most beneficial actions an adviser could take for a new graduate student in evolutionary biology would be to put Stearns' book in her or his hands and say, "Read this."' Science
'The Evolution of Life Histories by Stephen C. Stearns stands as a signpost to the resolution of the debate. The book justifiably focuses on the evolution of life-history traits. The successful predictions of optimality models that are amply demonstrated in the book indicate the fruitfulness of this approach. One of the most beneficial actions an adviser could take for a new graduate student in evolutionary biology would be to put Stearns' book in her or
his hands and say, "Read this".'
Samuel M. Scheiner, Northern Illinois University, Science, Vol. 258, December 1992
'This is a comprehensive, up-to-date text in a field that holds a central position in modern ecology and evolution.'
Ethology Ecology & Evolution 5: 1993
Prologue; Part I: Evolutionary explanation; Demography: age and stage structure; Quantitative genetics and reaction norms; Trade-offs; Lineage-specific effects; Part II: Age and size at maturity; Number and size of offspring; Reproductive lifespan and ageing; Appendices; Glossary; References; Author index; Subject index.