Allometric Engineering: A Causal Analysis of Natural Selection on Offspring Size

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Science  18 Dec 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5090, pp. 1927-1930
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5090.1927


Techniques of offspring size manipulation, "allometric engineering," were used in combination with studies of natural selection to elucidate the causal relation between egg size and offspring survival of lizards. The results experimentally validate premises underlying theories of optimal egg size: fecundity selection favoring the production of large clutches of small eggs was balanced by survival selection favoring large offspring. However, large hatchlings did not always have the highest survival, contrary to most theoretical expectations. Optimizing selection on offspring size per se was the most common pattern. Moreover, matches between average and optimal egg size were qualitative, not quantitative, perhaps reflecting known functional constraints on the production of large eggs.