Within-species variation in long-term trajectories of growth, fecundity and mortality in the CollembolaFolsomia candida

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Abstract

Senescence – the progressive deterioration of organisms with age – affects many traits of which survival and reproduction are the most commonly studied. Recent comparative studies have revealed a remarkable amount of variation in the patterns of ageing across the tree of life. This between-species diversity raises many questions about the evolution of senescence and of the shapes of the life-history age trajectories. Here, we study how the different components of the shapes of these life-history age trajectories can vary within a single species to shed light on the possible constraints involved in their evolution. To do so, we closely followed in controlled laboratory conditions, and for more than 450 days, the mortality, body length and fecundity of small cohorts of two clonal lineages of the Collembola Folsomia candida. We studied three components of the adult mortality trajectory: the baseline mortality, onset and speed of senescence. We found that they can differ between strains of a single species in such a way that, remarkably, an increased life expectancy is not synonymous with a delayed senescence: the strain that grows bigger has the longest life expectancy but suffers from a precocious senescence. We observed marked differences between the strains in the asymptotic body length and reproductive investment. More generally, our results highlight the importance of finely describing the long-term trajectories of several life-history traits in order to better understand how the patterns of senescence have been shaped by natural selection.

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