Animals make feeding decisions to simultaneously maximize fitness traits that often require different nutrients. Recent quantitative methods have been developed to characterize these nutritional trade-offs from performance landscapes on which traits are mapped on a nutrient space defined by two nutrients. This limitation constrains the broad applications of previous methods to more complex data, and a generalized framework is needed. Here, we build on previous methods and introduce a generalized vector-based approach—the vector of position approach—to study nutritional trade-offs in complex multidimensional spaces. The vector of position approach allows the estimate of performance variations across entire landscapes (peaks and valleys) and comparison of these variations between animals. Using landmark published data sets on life span and reproduction landscapes, we illustrate how our approach gives accurate quantifications of nutritional trade-offs in two-and three-dimensional spaces and can bring new insights into the underlying nutritional differences in trait expression between species. The vector of position approach provides a generalized framework for investigating nutritional differences in life-history trait expression within and between species, an essential step for the development of comparative research on the evolution of animal nutritional strategies.
Bibliographical noteCopyright The University of Chicago 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- nutritional geometry
- nutritional trade-off
- performance landscapes