Some of the best empirical examples of life-history evolution involve responses to predation. Nevertheless, most life-history theory dealing with responses to predation has not been formulated within an explicit dynamic food-web context. In particular, most previous theory does not explicitly consider the coupled population dynamics of the focal species and its predators and resources. Here we present a model of life-history evolution that explores the evolutionary consequences of size-specific predation on small individuals when there is a trade-off between growth and reproduction. The model explicitly describes the population dynamics of a predator, the prey of interest, and its resource. The selective forces that cause life-history evolution in the prey species emerge from the ecological interactions embodied by this model and can involve important elements of frequency dependence. Our results demonstrate that the strength of the coupling between predator and prey in the community determines many aspects of life-history evolution. If the coupling is weak (as is implicitly assumed in many previous models), differences in resource productivity have no effect on the nature of life-history evolution. A single life-history strategy is favored that minimizes the equilibrium resource density (if possible). If the coupling is strong, then higher resource productivities select for faster growth into the predation size refuge. Moreover, under strong coupling it is also possible for natural selection to favor an evolutionary diversification of life histories, possibly resulting in two coexisting species with divergent life-history strategies.
Corresponding Editor: T. Mousseau