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Data from: We happy few: using structured population models to identify the decisive events in the lives of exceptional individuals

Citation

Snyder, Robin E.; Ellner, Stephen P. (2016), Data from: We happy few: using structured population models to identify the decisive events in the lives of exceptional individuals, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3b56d

Abstract

In any population, some individuals make it big: they are among the few that produce many offspring, grow to large size, and so on. What distinguishes the lives of these happy few? We present three approaches for identifying what factors distinguish those "lucky" individuals who come to dominate reproduction in a population without fixed differences between individuals (genotype, site quality, etc.): comparing life-history trajectories for lucky and unlucky individuals and calculating the elasticity of the probability of becoming lucky to perturbations in demographic rates at a given size or a given age. As examples we consider published size-structured integral projection models for the tropical tree Dacrydium elatum and the semiarid shrub Artemisia ordosica and an age-size-structured matrix model for the tropical tree Cedrela ordosica. We find that good fortune (e.g., rapid growth) when small and young matters much more than good fortune when older and larger. Becoming lucky is primarily a matter of surviving while others die. For species with more variable growth (such as Cedrela and Ordosica), it is also a matter of growing fast. We focus on reproductive skew, but our methods are broadly applicable and can be used to investigate how individuals come to be exceptional in any aspect.

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