Lifespan and reproductive cost explain interspecific variation in the optimal onset of reproduction

  • Emeline Mourocq (Creator)
  • Pierre Bize (Creator)
  • Sandra Bouwhuis (Creator)
  • Russell Bradley (Creator)
  • Anne Charmantier (Creator)
  • Carlos de la Cruz (Creator)
  • Szymon M Drobniak (Creator)
  • Richard H M Espie (Creator)
  • Márton Herényi (Creator)
  • Hermann Hötker (Creator)
  • Oliver Krüger (Creator)
  • John Marzluff (Creator)
  • Anders P Møller (Creator)
  • Shinichi Nakagawa (Creator)
  • Richard A Phillips (Creator)
  • Andrew N Radford (Creator)
  • Alexandre Roulin (Creator)
  • János Török (Creator)
  • Juliana Valencia (Creator)
  • Martijn van de Pol (Creator)
  • Ian G Warkentin (Creator)
  • Isabel S Winney (Creator)
  • Andrew G Wood (Creator)
  • Michael Griesser (Creator)
  • Graeme Paton (Data Manager)



Fitness can be profoundly influenced by the age at first reproduction (AFR), but to date the AFR-fitness relationship only has been investigated intraspecifically. Here we investigated the relationship between AFR and average lifetime reproductive success (LRS) across 34 bird species. We assessed differences in the deviation of the Optimal AFR (i.e., the species-specific AFR associated with the highest LRS) from the age at sexual maturity, considering potential effects of life-history as well as social and ecological factors. Most individuals adopted the species-specific Optimal AFR and both the mean and Optimal AFR of species correlated positively with lifespan. Interspecific deviations of the Optimal AFR were associated with indices reflecting a change in LRS or survival as a function of AFR: a delayed AFR was beneficial in species where early AFR was associated with a decrease in subsequent survival or reproductive output. Overall, our results suggest that a delayed onset of reproduction beyond maturity is an optimal strategy explained by a long lifespan and costs of early reproduction. By providing the first empirical confirmations of key predictions of life-history theory across species, this study contributes to a better understanding of life-history evolution.

Data type

data of each analysis from the article

This file has three sheets. One for each analysis mentioned in the article. Each sheet contains the raw response variable (in bold) fixed and random effects.

raw data for manuscript.xlsx

Copyright and Open Data Licencing

This work is licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication license.
Date made available7 Jan 2016
PublisherDryad Digital Repository
  • Lifespan and reproductive cost explain interspecific variation in the optimal onset of reproduction

    Mourocq, E., Bize, P., Bouwhuis, S., Bradley, R., Charmantier, A., Cruz, C. D. L., Drobniak, S. M., Espie, R. H. M., Herényi, M., Hötker, H., Krüger, O., Marzluff, J., Møller, A. P., Nakagawa, S., Phillips, R. A., Radford, A. N., Roulin, A., Török, J., Valencia, J., Pol, M. V. D., & 4 othersWarkentin, I. G., Winney, I. S., Wood, A. G. & Griesser, M., Feb 2016, In: Evolution. 70, 2, p. 296-313 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)

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