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Individual fitness and phenotypic selection in age‐structured populations with constant growth rates

Moorad, Jacob A.
Ecology 2014 v.95 no.4 pp. 1087-1095
age structure, natural selection, phenotype
Powerful multiple regression‐based approaches are commonly used to measure the strength of phenotypic selection, which is the statistical association between individual fitness and trait values. Age structure and overlapping generations complicate determinations of individual fitness, contributing to the popularity of alternative methods for measuring natural selection that do not depend upon such measures. The application of regression‐based techniques for measuring selection in these situations requires a demographically appropriate, conceptually sound, and observable measure of individual fitness. It has been suggested that Fisher's reproductive value applied to an individual at its birth is such a definition. Here I offer support for this assertion by showing that multiple regression applied to this measure and vital rates (age‐specific survival and fertility rates) yields the same selection gradients for vital rates as those inferred from Hamilton's classical results. I discuss how multiple regressions, applied to individual reproductive value at birth, can be used efficiently to estimate measures of phenotypic selection that are problematic for sensitivity analyses. These include nonlinear selection, components of the opportunity for selection, and multilevel selection.