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Reproductive senescence in a long-lived seabird: rates of decline in late-life performance are associated with varying costs of early reproduction

Reed, Thomas E.; Kruuk, Loeske E .B.; Wanless, Sarah; Frederiksen, Morten; Cunningham, Emma J A; Harris, Michael P.. 2008 Reproductive senescence in a long-lived seabird: rates of decline in late-life performance are associated with varying costs of early reproduction. American Naturalist, 171. E89-E101. 10.1086/524957

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Abstract/Summary

Evolutionary theories of senescence predict that rates of decline in performance parameters should be shaped by early-life trade-offs between reproduction and somatic maintenance. Here we investigate factors influencing the rate of reproductive senescence in a long-lived seabird, the common guillemot Uria aalge, using data collected over a 23-year period. In the last 3 years of life, individual guillemots had significantly reduced breeding success and were less likely to hold a site or attempt to breed. Females senesced at a significantly faster rate than males. At the individual level, high levels of reproductive output earlier in life were associated with increased senescence later in life. This trade-off between early- and late-life reproduction was evident independent of the fact that as birds age, they breed later in the season. The rate of senescence was additionally dependent on environmental conditions experienced earlier in life, with evidence that harsh conditions amplified later declines in breeding success. Overall, individuals with intermediate levels of early-life productivity lived longer. These results provide support for the antagonistic-pleiotropy and disposable-soma theories of senescence and demonstrate for the first time in a wild bird population that increased rates of senescence in reproductive performance are associated with varying costs of reproduction early in life.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1086/524957
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 0003-0147
Additional Keywords: senescence, reproductive performance, trade-off, disposable soma, guillemot
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 13 Oct 2008 14:16
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3996

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