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Application of Options Theory: Reproductive Strategies Based on Costs. Comparison of Organisms Relative to Size and Time to Maturity:. Smallest / Least time To Maturity. Largest / Longest time to Maturity. Relative to all Organism. What does this mean?.

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Comparison of Organisms Relative to Size and Time to Maturity:

Smallest /

Least time

To Maturity

Largest /

Longest time

to Maturity

Relative to all Organism

what does this mean
What does this mean?

Is there a correlation between the relative size of the organism and it’s strategy for producing offspring?

  • R-selection strategy
    • Characterized by strong variability in population size, tendency for high fertility
  • K-selection strategy
    • Near constant population size, slow development, delayed reproduction, and single broodedness

Why do organisms choose one over the other?

reasons can be found in costs
Reasons Can be found in Costs

Due to limited resources, parents must consider the costs associated with producing offspring.

Costs can be expressed in terms of:

  • Resources (R)
    • include food & shelter
  • Time (T)
    • term of pregnancy, raising young, opportunity cost
  • Cognitive Development (C)
    • survival skills (hunting), identify & avoid predators
cost of producing offspring
Cost of Producing Offspring

Expressing Fixed Cost (FC) as a function of the individual costs components, we have:

FC = R + T + C

reasons for asexual and sexual reproduction in terms of cost
Reasons for Asexual and Sexual Reproduction in Terms of Cost

Asexual reproduction (r-selection strategy) less costly compared to sexual reproduction, can afford high variability/volatility in survival rate of offspring from large population

Sexual reproduction (k-selection strategy), cost intensive to parents, increased likelihood of survival for trade-off in lower number of offspring produced

asexual vs sexual reproduction
Asexual vs. Sexual Reproduction





DNA double

Helix uncoils

Splitting chromosome

Pair into two separate


After fertilization,

chromosomes recombine

2 daughter cells

4 gametes

output to different levels of fixed costs
Output to Different Levels of Fixed Costs

Where output is measured as the number of offspring

successful produced:

Fixed Costs

Rate of Success


phenomenon also seen in allometry
Phenomenon also seen in Allometry

In its most general sense, allometry is the study of size and it’s consequence.

Source: The Allometry of Growth and Reproduction

similarity with options theory
Similarity with Options Theory

Rate of Return


Low Fixed Cost

High Fixed Cost

uncertainty and costs
Uncertainty and Costs

High Volatility

Variable Costs

Low Volatility

Level of Fixed Costs

affects of uncertainty on reproduction
Affects of Uncertainty on Reproduction

High Volatility

Low Volatility

Death Rate

As Level of Fixed Costs Increases

Level of Fixed Costs

uncertainty and the value of the option to reproduce
Uncertainty and the Value of the Option to Reproduce

Referring to the options theory where the:


=rdt + dz


Where (S) denotes the growth rate of the species

(r) is the growth term associated with the rate of success in

producing offspring, and () is the volatility in offspring survival.

This shows that the growth of the species is dependent on:

-the increase of (r), and decrease of ()