The effects of body mass phylogeny habitat and trophic level on mammalian age at first reproduction
Evolution 41(4): 732-749
I examined age at first reproduction of 547 mammalian species to determine the influence of diet and habit on the evolution of life-history traits. Body mass correlated positively with age at first reproduction, explaining 56% of the variance. Habitat and trophic groups deviated significantly from the allometric curve in a pattern generally consistent with predictions from r/K selection theory and its modifications. However, mammalian orders also deviated significantly from the allometric curve, and different habitat and diet groups contained different ratios of mammalian orders. When the effects of orders were removed, residual deviations did not differ among ecological group. Adjusting for ecological differences did not eliminate the differences between orders. These results suggest that body mass (or some correlated factor) and phylogeny strongly constrain age at first reproduction. Ecological factors appear to have little effect on the evolution of age at first reproduction. Apparent differences in weight-specific ages at first reproduction within habitats and trophic groups may be the result of ecological selection of order composition in the present, rather than ecologically driven evolution of life history in the past.