Life-history theories of senescence are based on the existence of a trade-off in resource allocation between body maintenance and reproduction. This putative trade-off means that environmental and demographic factors affecting the costs of reproduction should be associated with changes in patterns of senescence. In many species, competition among males is a major component of male reproductive investment, and hence variation in the sex ratio is expected to affect rates of senescence. We test this prediction using nine years of demographic and behavioural data from a wild population of the annual field cricket Gryllus campestris. Over these generations, the sex ratio at adulthood varied substantially, from years with an equal number of each sex to years with twice as many females as males. Consistent with the predictions of theory, we found that in years with a greater proportion of females, both sexes experienced a slower increase in mortality rate with age. Additionally, phenotypic senescence in males was slower in years when there were more females. Sex ratio did not affect the baseline mortality rate in males, but females suffered higher age-independent mortality rates when males were in short supply.
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|Early online date||3 Apr 2019|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2019|
- life-history trade-off
- sexual selection