Life history theories attempt to explain the evolution of organism traits as adaptations to environmental variation. A model involving three primary life history strategies (endpoints on a triangular surface) describes general patterns of variation more comprehensively than schemes that examine single traits or merely contrast fast versus slow life histories. It provides a general means to predict a priori the types of populations with high or low demographic resilience, production potential, and conformity to density-dependent regulation. Periodic (long-lived, high fecundity, high recruitment variation) and opportunistic (small, short-lived, high reproductive effort, high demographic resilience) strategies should conform poorly to models that assume density-dependent recruitment. Periodic-type species reveal greatest recruitment variation and compensatory reserve, but with poor conformity to stockrecruitment models. Equilibrium-type populations (low fecundity, large egg size, parental care) should conform better to assumptions of density-dependent recruitment, but have lower demographic resilience. The model's predictions are explored relative to sustainable harvest, endangered species conservation, supplemental stocking, and transferability of ecological indices. When detailed information is lacking, species ordination according to the triangular model provides qualitative guidance for management and development of more detailed predictive models.