Climate-dependent costs of reproduction: survival and fecundity costs decline with length of the growing season and summer temperature

Ecol Lett. 2015 Apr;18(4):357-64. doi: 10.1111/ele.12417. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


Costs of reproduction are expected to vary with environmental conditions thus influencing selection on life-history traits. Yet, the effects of habitat conditions and climate on trade-offs among fitness components remain poorly understood. For 2-5 years, we quantified costs of experimentally increased reproduction in two populations (coastal long-season vs. inland short-season) of two long-lived orchids that differ in natural reproductive effort (RE; 30 vs. 75% fruit set). In both species, survival costs were found only at the short-season site, whereas growth and fecundity costs were evident at both sites, and both survival and fecundity costs declined with increasing growing season length and/or summer temperature. The results suggest that the expression of costs of reproduction depend on the local climate, and that climate warming could result in selection favouring increased RE in both study species.

Keywords: Dactylorhiza lapponica; Gymnadenia conopsea; climate change; context-dependent trade-off; fitness component; life-history evolution; reproductive effort.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate*
  • Fertility*
  • Linear Models
  • Norway
  • Orchidaceae / physiology*
  • Reproduction
  • Seasons
  • Temperature*