The conditions under which individuals are reared vary and sensitivity of offspring to such variation is often sex-dependent. Parental age is one important natal condition with consequences for aspects of offspring fitness, but reports are mostly limited to short-term fitness consequences and do not take into account offspring sex. Here we used individual-based data from a large colony of a long-lived seabird, the common tern Sterna hirundo, to investigate longitudinal long-term fitness consequences of parental age in relation to both offspring and parental sex. We found that recruited daughters from older mothers suffered from reduced annual reproductive success. Recruited sons from older fathers were found to suffer from reduced life span. Both effects translated to reductions in offspring lifetime reproductive success. Besides revealing novel sex-specific pathways of transgenerational parental age effects on offspring fitness, which inspire studies of potential underlying mechanisms, our analyses show that reproductive senescence is only observed in the common tern when including transgenerational age effects. In general, our study shows that estimates of selective pressures underlying the evolution of senescence, as well as processes such as age-dependent mate choice and sex allocation, will depend on whether causal transgenerational effects exist and are taken into account.
Data from: Sex-specific pathways of parental age effects on offspring lifetime reproductive success in a long-lived seabird
Bouwhuis, S. (Creator), Vedder, O. (Creator) & Becker, P. H. (Creator), University of Groningen, 26-mei-2015