vertebrate life histories

Trade-offs in aquatic and terrestrial environments
predict amphibian metamorphosis, or lack thereof.
Adapted from Werner (1986)

I am collaborating with phylogeneticists, life-history theorists, and fisheries biologists to understand the selective forces that shape life-histories in aquatic and terrestrial environments. We have found fundamental differences in the evolution of live birth in aquatic and terrestrial environments. These differences help to explain the relative paucity of aquatic live-bearing vertebrates and why several live-bearing terrestrial clades (e.g., sea snakes, cetaceans) have successfully colonized aquatic environments.

Reptiles and amphibians are disproportionately threatened amongst vertebrates, but are lagging behind other vertebrate taxa with regards to ecological studies and conservation plans. As the need to triage data-limited, at-risk species becomes evermore necessary, calls for conservation priorities to be based on evolutionary considerations are increasing.

My first postdoc with Holly Kindsvater sought to develop a life-history framework for reptile and amphibian conservation. We used traditional life-history theory to evaluate the susceptibility of species to anthropogenic change. We then developed ten key principles from evolutionary ecology that can facilitate the management of reptiles and amphibians. Our framework highlights gaps in our understanding of the selective forces that have generated the tremendous diversity of reproductive strategies amongst reptiles and amphibians, and provides a guide for managers and conservation scientists to proactively mitigate extinction risk.

Publications and Talks
Brooks, G. C., H. C. Chandler, C. A. Haas, and H. K. Kindsvater. Ten principles from evolutionary ecology for the effective conservation of reptiles and amphibians. in review

Brooks, G. C., Uyeda J. C., H. Conrad, N. Bone, C. Mull, and H. K. Kindsvater. 2024. Fundamental constraints on the evolution of vertebrate life histories. bioRxiv. link

Brooks, G. C. 2023. Why are vertebrates so big? Functional Ecology 37:2764-2766. link

Uyeda J. C., G. C. Brooks, H. K. Kindsvater, N. Bone, C. Mull, and H. Conrad. 2022. Macroevolutionary modeling of life history evolution in vertebrates. Evolution, Cleveland, OH, USA.

Brooks, G. C. and H. K. Kindsvater. 2022. Early development drives variation in amphibian vulnerability to global change. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10:813414. link

Life history space occupied by amphibians with different reproductive modes. From Brooks and Kindsvater (2022)