Reproductive Strategies in Animals

Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semesters 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

1. General overview of life-history evolution. Roots and links.

2. Life-history components and fitness. Energy allocation as constraint. Heritability of life-history components

3. Optimality models of life-histories.  

4. Currency, constraints and trade-offs. Problems in measuring constraints.  

5. The cost of reproduction and its measures. Correlative and experimental methods. Secondary sexual traits as lifehistory components

6. Optimal clutch and litter size. Individual optimization.  

7. Trade-offs between the number and fitness of offspring.

8. Phenotypic plasticity.  

9. Extremes of reproductive effort. Reproductive investment.

10. Mating systems in animals. Monogamy, polygamy and promiscuity

11. The parental care. Mono- and biparental care in vertebrates.

12. Mechanisms of sexual selection. Inter- and intrasexual selection, sperm competition. Other mechanisms.

13. Hypotheses, predictions, and experimental tests.

14. Prospects in life-history and sexual selection studies.  


  • Ligon: DJ  1999: The Evolution of Avian Breeding Systems. Oxford University Press.

  • Michl G 2003: A Birder’s Guide to the Behaviour of European and North American Birds. Gavia Science.

  • Searcy WA és Nowicki S 2005: The Evolution of Animal Communication. Princeton University Press.