Individual life histories: neither slow nor fast, just diverse

Joanie Van de Walle* (Corresponding author), Rémi Fay, Jean-Michel Gaillard, Fanie Pelletier, Sandra Hamel, Marlène Gamelon, Christophe Barbraud, F. Guillaume Blanchet, Daniel T. Blumstein, Anne Charmantier, Karine Delord, Benjamin Larue, Julien Martin, James A. Mills, Emmanuel Milot, Francine M. Mayer, Jay Rotella, Bernt-Erik Saether, Céline Teplitsky, Martijn van de PolDirk H. Van Vuren, Marcel E. Visser, Caitlin P. Wells, John Yarrall, Stéphanie Jenouvrier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The slow–fast continuum is a commonly used framework to describe variation in life-history strategies across species. Individual life histories have also been assumed to follow a similar pattern, especially in the pace-of-life syndrome literature. However, whether a slow–fast continuum commonly explains life-history variation among individuals within a population remains unclear. Here, we formally tested for the presence of a slow–fast continuum of life histories both within populations and across species using detailed long-term individual-based demographic data for 17 bird and mammal species with markedly different life histories. We estimated adult lifespan, age at first reproduction, annual breeding frequency, and annual fecundity, and identified the main axes of life-history variation using principal component analyses. Across species, we retrieved the slow–fast continuum as the main axis of life-history variation. However, within populations, the patterns of individual life-history variation did not align with a slow–fast continuum in any species. Thus, a continuum ranking individuals from slow to fast living is unlikely to shape individual differences in life histories within populations. Rather, individual life-history variation is likely idiosyncratic across species, potentially because of processes such as stochasticity, density dependence, and individual differences in resource acquisition that affect species differently and generate non-generalizable patterns across species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20230511
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number2002
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jul 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Individual life histories: neither slow nor fast, just diverse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • data from: Individual life histories

    Van de Walle, J. (Creator), Fay, R. (Creator), Gaillard, J. M. (Creator), Pelletier, F. (Creator), Hamel, S. (Creator), Gamelon, M. (Creator), Barbraud, C. (Creator), Blanchet, F. G. (Creator), Blumstein, D. T. (Creator), Charmantier, A. (Creator), Delord, K. (Creator), Larue, B. (Creator), Martin, J. (Creator), Mills, J. A. (Creator), Milot, E. (Creator), Mayer, F. M. (Creator), Rotella, J. J. (Creator), Sæther, B. (Creator), Teplitsky, C. (Creator), van de Pol, M. (Creator), Van Vuren, D. H. (Creator), Visser, M. E. (Creator), Wells, C. P. (Creator), Yarrall, J. (Creator) & Jenouvrier, S. (Creator), Dryad, 14 Jun 2023


Cite this