The existence of semelparity or “big bang” reproduction (reproducing only once in a lifetime) and iteroparity (reproducing more than once in a lifetime) has led to many questions investigating the evolution or persistence of these strategies. Here we investigate semelparity and iteroparity for their evolutionary importance. A mathematical model is used to illustrate how a population's ability to evolve depends on this life-history trait, and how this rate of evolution impacts the individual. We find that the ability of a trait to evolve is greater toward a semelparous strategy and this expresses a fitness advantage. This leads to an optimality between survival, population tracking ability, and lifetime fecundity.
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