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Demography is central to both ecology and evolution, and characterizing the feedback between ecology and evolution is critical for understanding organisms' life histories and how these might evolve through time. Here, we show how, by combining a range of theoretical approaches with the statistical analysis of individually structured databases, accurate prediction of life history decisions is possible in natural density-regulated populations undergoing large fluctuations in demographic rates from year to year. Our predictions are remarkably accurate and statistically well defined. In addition, we show that the predicted trait values are evolutionarily and convergence stable and that protected polymorphisms are possible.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





10466 - 10470


Biological Evolution, Carduus, Demography, Ecology, Ecosystem, Environment, Flowers, Models, Biological, Models, Statistical, Physiological Phenomena, Plants, Population Density, Population Dynamics, Selection, Genetic, Stochastic Processes