The evolution of ageing in cooperative breeders

Jan J. Kreider*, Boris H. Kramer, Jan Komdeur, Ido Pen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperPreprintAcademic

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Abstract

Cooperatively breeding animals live longer than their solitary counterparts. The traditional explanation for this is that cooperative breeding evolves more readily in long-lived species. Here, we reverse this argument and show that long lifespans are an evolutionary consequence of cooperative breeding. Natural selection favours a delayed onset of senescence in cooperative breeders, relative to solitary breeders, because cooperative breeders have a delayed age of first reproduction due to reproductive queueing. Especially long lifespans evolve in cooperative breeders with age-dependent reproductive queueing. Finally, we show that lower genetic relatedness among group members leads to the evolution of longer lifespans. This is because selection against higher mortality is weaker when mortality reduces competition between relatives. Our results link the evolutionary theory of ageing with kin selection theory, demonstrating that the evolution of ageing in cooperative breeders is driven by the timing of reproduction and kin structure within breeding territories.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBioRxiv
Number of pages18
DOIs
Publication statusSubmitted - 5-Mar-2022

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