Deconstructing environmental predictability: seasonality, environmental colour and the biogeography of marine life histories

Dustin Marshall, Scott Clayton Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental predictability is predicted to shape the evolution of life histories. Two key types of environmental predictability, seasonality and environmental colour, may influence life-history evolution independently but formal considerations of both and how they relate to life history are exceedingly rare. Here, in a global biogeographical analysis of over 800 marine invertebrates, we explore the relationships between both forms of environmental predictability and three fundamental life-history traits: location of larval development (aplanktonic vs. planktonic), larval developmental mode (feeding vs. non-feeding) and offspring size. We found that both dispersal potential and offspring size related to environmental predictability, but the relationships depended on both the environmental factor as well as the type of predictability. Environments that were more seasonal in food availability had a higher prevalence of species with a planktonic larval stage. Future studies should consider both types of environmental predictability as each can strongly affect life-history evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174 - 181
Number of pages8
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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