A life history model of somatic damage associated with resource acquisition: damage protection or prevention?

Jonathan Yearsley, A Kyriazakis, Iain Gordon, Sarah Louise Johnston, John Roger Speakman, B J Tolkamp, A W Illius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


A resource acquisition-allocation model is developed to examine the trade-off between reproduction and somatic protection. Unlike previous studies, resource intake is not assumed to be constrained: instead, resource intake is free to vary, with increased intake being associated with an increased risk of somatic damage. This gives rise to an optimal resource intake as well as an optimal allocation strategy. This paper studies the relative importance of acquisition and allocation strategies in regulating acquisition-related mortality. Under the optimal allocation strategy mortality rate increases with age, in accordance with the disposable soma theory of aging. Contrary to the usual interpretation of the disposable soma theory, this increase in mortality can arise from an increase in the resource acquisition effort rather than a decrease in the resources allocated to protection. At early ages resource acquisition is found to be the primary path for regulating life history costs, whilst allocating resources to protection becomes more important later in life. Models for targeted and non-targeted damage repair are considered and the robustness of our results to the structure and parameterization of the model is discussed. The results from our models are discussed in light of published data. Resource acquisition is shown to be a potentially important mechanism for controlling somatic damage which deserves further study. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-317
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number3
Early online date25 Feb 2005
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2005


  • life history
  • acquisition-allocation model
  • aging
  • somatic damage
  • resource intake
  • feed-intake regulation
  • oxidative DNA-damage
  • caloric restriction
  • energy-intake
  • mitochondrial-DNA
  • drosophila-melanogaster
  • diet selection
  • cold-exposure
  • rsik-taking
  • hard work


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