Life-history theory is based on the assumption that evolution is constrained by trade-offs among different traits that contribute to fitness. Such trade-offs should be evident from negative genetic correlations among major life-history traits. However, this expectation is not always met. Here I report the results of a life-table experiment designed to measure the broad-sense heritabilities of life-history traits and their genetic correlations in 19 different clones of the aphid Myzus persicae from Victoria, Australia. Most individual traits, as well as fitness calculated as the finite rate of increase from the life table, exhibited highly significant heritabilities. The pattern of genetic correlations revealed absolutely no evidence for life-history trade-offs. Rather, life histories were arranged along an axis from better to worse. Clones with shorter development times tended to have larger body sizes, higher fecundities, and larger offspring. The fitness of clones estimated from the life table in the laboratory tended to be positively associated with their abundance in the field. Fitness also increased significantly with heterozygosity at the seven microsatellite loci that were used to distinguish clones and estimate their frequencies in the field. I discuss these findings in light of a recent proposition that positive genetic correlations among life-history traits for which trade-offs are expected can be explained by genetic variation for resource acquisition ability that is maintained in populations by a cost of acquisition, and I propose ways to test for such a cost in M. persicae.
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Vol. 59 • No. 5