Skip to main content

Data from: Lifetime fitness, sex-specific life history, and the maintenance of a polyphenism

Cite this dataset

Lackey, Alycia et al. (2020). Data from: Lifetime fitness, sex-specific life history, and the maintenance of a polyphenism [Dataset]. Dryad.


Polyphenisms, alternative morphs produced through plasticity, can reveal the evolutionary and ecological processes that initiate and maintain diversity within populations. We examined lifetime fitness consequences of two morphs in a polyphenic population of Arizona Tiger Salamanders using a 27-year data set with 1,317 adults and 6,862 captures across eight generations. Larval salamanders develop into either an aquatic paedomorph that retains larval traits and stays in its natal pond or a terrestrial metamorph that undergoes metamorphosis. To evaluate the adaptive significance of this polyphenism, we compared lifetime reproductive success of each morph and assessed how life history strategies and spatiotemporal variation explained fitness. We found sex-specific differences in lifetime fitness between morphs. For males, paedomorphs had more reproductive opportunities than metamorphs when we accounted for the potential mating advantage of larger males. For females, in contrast, metamorphs had higher estimated egg production than paedomorphs. Life history strategies differed between morphs largely because the morphs maximize different ends of the trade-off between age at first reproduction and longevity. Spatiotemporal variation affected larval more than adult life history traits with little to no effect on lifetime fitness. Thus, environmental variation likely explains differences in morph production across time and space but contributes little to lifetime fitness differences between morphs and sexes. Our long-term study and measures of lifetime fitness provide unique insight into the complex selective regimes potentially acting on each morph and sex. Our findings motivate future work to examine how sex-specific selection may contribute to the maintenance of polyphenism.

Usage notes


United States