Environmental uncertainty, autocorrelation and the evolution of survival

C. J.E. Metcalf, D. N. Koons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Survival is a key fitness component and the evolution of age- and stage-specific patterns in survival is a central question in evolutionary biology. In variable environments, favouring chances of survival at the expense of other fitness components could increase fitness by spreading risk across uncertain conditions, especially if environmental conditions improve in the future. Both the magnitude of environmental variation and temporal autocorrelation in the environment might therefore affect the evolution of survival patterns. Despite this, the influence of temporal autocorrelation on the evolution of survival patterns has not been addressed. Here, we use a trade-off structure which reflects the empirically inspired paradigm of acquisition and allocation of resources to investigate how the evolutionarily stable survival probability is shaped in variable, density-dependent environments. We show that temporal autocorrelation is likely to be an important aspect of environmental variability that contributes to shaping age- and stage-specific patterns of survival probabilities in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2153-2160
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1622
StatePublished - Sep 7 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Autocorrelation
  • ES allocation strategy
  • Semelparous
  • Stochasticity
  • Survival
  • Trade-off


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental uncertainty, autocorrelation and the evolution of survival'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this