Abstract and Keywords
Hormones mediate the expression of life history traits—phenotypic traits that contribute to lifetime fitness (i.e., reproductive timing, growth rate, number and size of offspring). The endocrine system shapes phenotype by organizing tissues during developmental periods and by activating changes in behavior, physiology, and morphology in response to varying physical and social environments. Because hormones can simultaneously regulate many traits (hormonal pleiotropy), they are important mediators of life history trade-offs among growth, reproduction, and survival. This chapter reviews the role of hormones in shaping life histories with an emphasis on developmental plasticity and reversible flexibility in endocrine and life history traits. It also discusses the advantages of studying hormone–behavior interactions from an evolutionary perspective. Recent research in evolutionary endocrinology has provided insight into the heritability of endocrine traits, how selection on hormone systems may influence the evolution of life histories, and the role of hormonal pleiotropy in driving or constraining evolution.
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