This concluding chapter summarizes key themes and identifies four important, overriding concepts that have emerged from this book. First, a common conclusion of many ecological and evolutionary studies is that there are intrinsic differences between individuals such that certain high-quality females lay many, large eggs, with a relatively early laying date, rear large broods, and recruit more offspring, while also having higher future fecundity and survival, thus apparently “avoiding” underlying the trade-offs that would predict negative correlations between these traits. Second, most individuals do not reproduce successfully; rather, the majority of individuals do not reproduce at all, while a few individuals contribute a large proportion of the offspring making up the next generation. Third, at the physiological level, different individuals are likely to adopt very flexible, “individually variable” strategies to deal with the costs and benefits of investment in self-maintenance or offspring when faced with increased workload or increased parental effort. Fourth, reproduction needs to be viewed as only one part of an individual's integrated annual cycle and its complete life-history.
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