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Title: Life-history strategies of primates
Author: Ross, Caroline Ann
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1989
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This thesis examines variation in the life-history parameters of primates using comparative techniques. Several theories of life-history evolution are introduced in the first chapter, together with a summary of the previous work on this topic. Scaling methods are used to separate variation in life-history parameters that is correlated with body weight from that which cannot be predicted from an animal's size. These methods are described in detail in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 describes the variation found in body size and basal metabolic rate and correlations with phylogeny, diet, habitat and other aspects of ecology. Patterns of variation in reproductive parameters, particularly reproductive rates (as measured by the intrinsic rate of natural increase, r_{max}) and reproductive effort (as measured by prenatal and postnatal infant growth rates), are described and compared with patterns reported in other studies. Possible reasons for the scaling relationships found are suggested and the influences of metabolic rate, phylogeny, diet, habitat and other aspects of ecology are investigated. This is carried out for all primates in Chapters 4-6 and in Chapter 7 there is a closer look at the cercopithecine monkeys. It is suggested that r_{max} is influenced by the predictability of the environment, with more unpredictable environments being associated with a higher r_{max} that more predictable environments. However, this is only found when body weight effects are removed from the r_{max} data. Growth rates do not appear to be correlated with environmental predictability but are mainly correlated with body size and relative metabolic rate. There is some indication that the degree of parental care may also be correlated with relative growth rates. It is concluded that no single theory of life-history evolution can amount for the variation found in primate life-histories, but that some aspects of several theories may be useful in describing the patterns found.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Evolution; Environment Zoology Ecology