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Lifespan and reproductive cost explain interspecific variation in the optimal onset of reproduction


Abstract

Fitness can be profoundly influenced by the age at first reproduction (AFR), but to date the AFR-fitness relationship only has been investigated intraspecifically. Here we investigated the relationship between AFR and average lifetime reproductive success (LRS) across 34 bird species. We assessed differences in the deviation of the Optimal AFR (i.e., the species-specific AFR associated with the highest LRS) from the age at sexual maturity, considering potential effects of life-history as well as social and ecological factors. Most individuals adopted the species-specific Optimal AFR and both the mean and Optimal AFR of species correlated positively with lifespan. Interspecific deviations of the Optimal AFR were associated with indices reflecting a change in LRS or survival as a function of AFR: a delayed AFR was beneficial in species where early AFR was associated with a decrease in subsequent survival or reproductive output. Overall, our results suggest that a delayed onset of reproduction beyond maturity is an optimal strategy explained by a long lifespan and costs of early reproduction. By providing the first empirical confirmations of key predictions of life-history theory across species, this study contributes to a better understanding of life-history evolution.

Abstract

Fitness can be profoundly influenced by the age at first reproduction (AFR), but to date the AFR-fitness relationship only has been investigated intraspecifically. Here we investigated the relationship between AFR and average lifetime reproductive success (LRS) across 34 bird species. We assessed differences in the deviation of the Optimal AFR (i.e., the species-specific AFR associated with the highest LRS) from the age at sexual maturity, considering potential effects of life-history as well as social and ecological factors. Most individuals adopted the species-specific Optimal AFR and both the mean and Optimal AFR of species correlated positively with lifespan. Interspecific deviations of the Optimal AFR were associated with indices reflecting a change in LRS or survival as a function of AFR: a delayed AFR was beneficial in species where early AFR was associated with a decrease in subsequent survival or reproductive output. Overall, our results suggest that a delayed onset of reproduction beyond maturity is an optimal strategy explained by a long lifespan and costs of early reproduction. By providing the first empirical confirmations of key predictions of life-history theory across species, this study contributes to a better understanding of life-history evolution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:01 Feb 2016 15:54
Last Modified:02 Feb 2018 09:50
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0014-3820
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Mourocq et al: Lifespan and reproductive cost explain interspecific variation in the optimal onset of reproduction, Evolution, 10.1111/evo.12853, which has been published in final form at http://doi.org/10.1111/evo.12853. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-820227.html#terms).
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.12853
PubMed ID:26763090

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