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Global gradients of avian longevity support the classic evolutionary theory of ageing


Valcu, M; Dale, J; Griesser, M; Nakagawa, S; Kempenaers, B (2014). Global gradients of avian longevity support the classic evolutionary theory of ageing. Ecography, 37(10):930-938.

Abstract

Senescence, the process of physiological deterioration associated with growing old, is a shared characteristic of a wide range of animals. Yet, lifespan varies dramatically among species. To explain this variation, the evolutionary theory of ageing has been proposed more than 50 yr ago. Although the theory has been tested experimentally and through comparative analyses, there remains debate whether its fundamental prediction is empirically supported. Here, we use a comprehensive database on avian life history traits to test the evolutionary theory of ageing at a global scale. We show that pronounced geographical gradients of maximum longevity exist, that they are predicted by measures of predator diversity and only partly depend on correlated life-history traits. The results are consistent with species-level analyses and can be replicated across bio-geographical regions. Our analyses suggest that stochastic predation is an important driver of the evolution of lifespan, at least in birds.

Abstract

Senescence, the process of physiological deterioration associated with growing old, is a shared characteristic of a wide range of animals. Yet, lifespan varies dramatically among species. To explain this variation, the evolutionary theory of ageing has been proposed more than 50 yr ago. Although the theory has been tested experimentally and through comparative analyses, there remains debate whether its fundamental prediction is empirically supported. Here, we use a comprehensive database on avian life history traits to test the evolutionary theory of ageing at a global scale. We show that pronounced geographical gradients of maximum longevity exist, that they are predicted by measures of predator diversity and only partly depend on correlated life-history traits. The results are consistent with species-level analyses and can be replicated across bio-geographical regions. Our analyses suggest that stochastic predation is an important driver of the evolution of lifespan, at least in birds.

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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:2014
Deposited On:29 Oct 2014 18:29
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:26
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0906-7590
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.00929

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