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Many important questions in ecology and evolutionary biology can only be answered with data that extend over several decades and answering a substantial proportion of questions requires records of the life histories of recognisable individuals. We identify six advantages that long-term, individual based studies afford in ecology and evolution: (i) analysis of age structure; (ii) linkage between life history stages; (iii) quantification of social structure; (iv) derivation of lifetime fitness measures; (v) replication of estimates of selection; (vi) linkage between generations, and we review their impact on studies in six key areas of evolution and ecology. Our review emphasises the unusual opportunities and productivity of long-term, individual-based studies and documents the important role that they play in research on ecology and evolutionary biology as well as the difficulties they face.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.tree.2010.08.002

Type

Journal article

Journal

Trends Ecol Evol

Publication Date

10/2010

Volume

25

Pages

562 - 573

Keywords

Aging, Animals, Biological Evolution, Ecology, Life Cycle Stages, Phenotype, Population, Selection, Genetic, Sex Ratio, Social Behavior, Time Factors