Reproductive effort accelerates actuarial senescence in wild birds: An experimental study

Jelle J. Boonekamp*, Martijn Salomons, Sandra Bouwhuis, Cornelis Dijkstra, Simon Verhulst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)
284 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Optimality theories of ageing predict that the balance between reproductive effort and somatic maintenance determines the rate of ageing. Laboratory studies find that increased reproductive effort shortens lifespan, but through increased short-term mortality rather than ageing. In contrast, high fecundity in early life is associated with accelerated senescence in free-living vertebrates, but these studies are non-experimental. We performed lifelong brood size manipulation in free-living jackdaws. Actuarial senescence - the increase in mortality rate with age - was threefold higher in birds rearing enlarged- compared to reduced broods, confirming a key prediction of the optimality theory of ageing. Our findings contrast with the results of single-year brood size manipulation studies carried out in many species, in which there was no overall discernible manipulation effect on mortality. We suggest that our and previous findings are in agreement with predictions based on the reliability theory of ageing and propose further tests of this proposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
JournalEcology Letters
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May-2014

Keywords

  • life history
  • trade-off
  • survival
  • force of mortality
  • Age structure
  • Gompertz
  • jackdaw
  • AGE-SPECIFIC MORTALITY
  • TITS PARUS-MAJOR
  • DIETARY RESTRICTION
  • BANK VOLE
  • LITTER SIZE
  • TRADE-OFFS
  • LIFE-SPAN
  • GREAT TIT
  • COSTS
  • EVOLUTION
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Clutch Size
  • Longevity
  • Reproduction

Cite this