Latitudinal and age-specific patterns of larval mortality in the damselflyLestes sponsa: Senescence before maturity?
Latitudinal differences in life history traits driven by differences in seasonal time constraints have been widely documented. Yet, latitudinal patterns in (age-specific) mortality rates have been poorly studied. Here, we studied latitudinal differences in pre-adult age-specific mortality patterns in the strictly univoltine damselfly Lestes sponsa. We compared individuals from three latitudes reared from the egg stage in the laboratory at temperatures and photoperiods simulating those at the latitude of origin (main experiment) and under common-garden conditions at a fixed temperature and photoperiod (supplementary experiment). Results from the main experiment showed that the high-latitude population exhibited higher mortality rates than the central and southern populations, likely reflecting a cost of their faster development. Age-specific mortality patterns, also indicated higher ageing rates in the high-latitude compared to the low-latitude population, which likely had a genetic basis. The strong within-population variation in hatching dates in the low-latitude population caused variation in mortality rates; individuals that hatched later showed higher mortality rates presumably due to their shorter development times compared to larvae that hatched earlier. In both experiments, larvae from all three latitudes showed accelerated mortality rates with age, which is consistent with a pattern of senescence before adulthood.