Big houses, big cars, superfleas and the costs of reproduction

Trends Ecol Evol. 2000 Oct 1;15(10):421-425. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(00)01941-8.


The assumption of costs of reproduction were a logical necessity for much of the early development of life history theory. An unfortunate property of 'logical necessities' is that it is easy to also assume that they must be true. What if this does not turn out to be the case? The existence and universality of costs of reproduction were initially challenged with empirical data of questionable value, but later with increasingly strong theoretical and empirical results. Here, we discuss Ken Spitze's 'superfleas', which represent what we consider to be the strongest empirical challenge to the universality of costs, then offer a possible explanation for their existence.