I have traditionally thought of and heard about life-history traits (e.g., size at first reproduction, number of offspring, size of offspring, survival, etc., etc.) as drawing from a finite pool of resources that an organism has, and therefore exhibiting tradeoffs. So, for instance, an organism that invests in a lot of offspring would experience a decreased probability of survival.

It has recently come to my attention that this is not always the case, and I'm not sure why. I have been directed to the work of David Houle, who wrote extensively on the topic of life-history traits, but some of his work is inaccessible to me intellectually. I was hoping that somebody had a more digestible explanation or was maybe more familiar with Houle's work.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you link to a few works in particular, or where you first read that? $\endgroup$ – Amory Sep 15 '13 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ The name of the paper I've read is, "Genetic covariance of fitness correlates: what genetic correlations are made of and why it matters". David Houle from the journal Evolution, 1991, Vol. 45. Issue 3. Pp 630-648. $\endgroup$ – Atticus29 Sep 15 '13 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ It apparently has something to do with the number of loci influencing ability to obtain resources versus the number of loci influencing how those resources are allocated... $\endgroup$ – Atticus29 Sep 24 '13 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ For those willing to answer: Here is David Houle's article $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Mar 6 '14 at 9:12

The simple explanation is that there are three (or more) traits drawing from the pool, and you're only looking for trade-offs between two of them. The unobserved third may show the effect of a trade-off.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you explain some more with references? $\endgroup$ – Devashish Das Jul 20 '14 at 16:56

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