Metabolic rate is considered to determine the energetic investment placed into life-history traits. However, how metabolic rate and life- history traits co-evolve remains unclear. Here, we test the ontogenetic dependency of the coevolution.
Metabolic rate is considered to determine the energetic investment placed into life-history traits, regulating the speed of an organisms life-cycle and forming the so called \"pace-of-life\". However, how metabolic rate and life-history traits co-evolve remains unclear. For instance, the energetic demands of life-history traits, including the number of energy allocation trade-offs, is unlikely to remain constant over ontogeny. Therefore, the predicted coevolution between metabolic rate and life-history could be specific to particular ontogenetic stages, rather than a stable property of an organism. Here, we test the ontogenetic dependency of the coevolution between metabolic rate and the pace of life-history, under strictly standardized conditions using 30 species of killifish, which are either annual species adapted to ephemeral pools or non-annual species inhabiting more permanent waterbodies. Standard metabolic rates were estimated at three ontogenetic stages, together with relevant life-history traits, i.e. growth (juveniles), maturity (young adults), and reproductive rate (reproductive adults). Life-history traits largely followed predicted pace-of-life patterns, with overall faster/higher rates in annual species. The divergences in life-history traits across species tended to increase over ontogeny, being smallest during juvenile growth and largest in reproductive adults. However, associations between life-history strategy and metabolic rate followed a reversed pattern, being strongest in juveniles, but lowest in reproductive adults. Our results are concordant with the number of energetic trade-offs increasing over ontogeny, which results in a stronger covariation between physiology and life-history traits earlier in ontogeny.