Modelling life history strategies with capture-recapture data: evolutionary demography of the water skink Eulamprus tympanum

Simon P. Blomberg*, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Matrix population models, elasticity analysis and loop analysis can potentially provide powerful techniques for the analysis of life histories. Data from a capture-recapture study on a population of southern highland water skinks (Eulamprus tympanum) were used to construct a matrix population model. Errors in elasticities were calculated by using the parametric bootstrap technique. Elasticity and loop analyses were then conducted to identify the life history stages most important to fitness. The same techniques were used to investigate the relative importance of fast versus slow growth, and rapid versus delayed reproduction. Mature water skinks were long-lived, but there was high immature mortality. The most sensitive life history stage was the subadult stage. It is suggested that life history evolution in E. tympanum may be strongly affected by predation, particularly by birds. Because our population declined over the study, slow growth and delayed reproduction were the optimal life history strategies over this period. Although the techniques of evolutionary demography provide a powerful approach for the analysis of life histories, there are formidable logistical obstacles in gathering enough high-quality data for robust estimates of the critical parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-359
Number of pages11
JournalAustral Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Elasticity
  • Eulamprus tympanum
  • Evolution
  • Life history
  • Lizard
  • Loop
  • Mark-recapture analysis
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Population matrix


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling life history strategies with capture-recapture data: evolutionary demography of the water skink <i>Eulamprus tympanum</i>'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this