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Question Video: Comparing Death Rate of a Species to Their Reproductive Strategies Biology

Parasites (e.g., fleas) living in the fur of animals have a high death rate. What reproductive strategy would you expect parasites to use?

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Video Transcript

Parasites, e.g., fleas, living in the fur of animals have a high death rate. What reproductive strategy would you expect parasites to use? (A) They will produce few offspring. (B) They will produce many offspring. (C) They will invest a lot of energy in parental care. Or (D) they will not reproduce.

What does reproductive strategy mean? The reproductive strategy of an organism refers to the way in which it mates and/or raises offspring. When species live in very harsh conditions, like fleas, and have a high death rate, that can rapidly bring the population size down. Such species also tend to produce very large numbers of offspring. We can also refer to this as a quantity-over-quality reproductive strategy, in which parents provide little input or investment beyond simply producing the many offspring.

Let’s say this is a flea colony with 10 individuals. Due to harsh conditions, they have a high death rate, and eight out of these 10 individuals die. However, there are still two individuals left to reproduce. Those two fleas may have 20 offspring in a single clutch of eggs. The eggs also have a high death rate, so let’s say 12 of those eggs day as well. Although that only leaves two adults and eight eggs, with such high offspring produced per flea, the species will be able to survive through the high death rate. So, generally, species with a high death rate pursue the reproductive strategy of producing many offspring.

Therefore, the correct answer to this question is (B). The reproductive strategy we would expect parasites to use is that they will produce many offspring.

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