Older mothers produce more successful daughters

Svenja B. Kroeger*, Daniel T. Blumstein, Kenneth B. Armitage, Jane M. Reid, Julien G. A. Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Annual reproductive success and senescence patterns vary substantially among individuals in the wild. However, it is still seldom considered that senescencemay not only affect an individual, but also affect age-specific reproductive success in its offspring, generating transgenerational reproductive senescence. We used long-term data from wild yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventer) living in two different elevational environments to quantify age-specific reproductive success of daughters born to mothers differing in age. Contrary to prediction, daughters born to older mothers had greater annual reproductive success
on average than daughters born to younger mothers, and this translated into greater lifetime reproductive success. However, in the favorable lower elevation environment, daughters born to older mothers also had greater age-specific decreases in annual reproductive success. In the harsher higher elevation environment on the other hand, daughters born to older mothers tended to
die prior to reaching ages where such senescent decreases could be observed. Our study highlights the importance of incorporating environment-specific transgenerational parent age effects on adult offspring age-specific life-history traits to fully understand the substantial variation observed in senescence patterns in wild populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4809-4814
Number of pages6
Issue number9
Early online date18 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Marmots were studied under UCLA research protocol ARC 2001-191-01 (approved by the UCLA Animal Care Committee on 13 May 2002 and renewed annually). Permits were issued by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. We are thankful to all marmoteers who contributed to data collection. S.B.K. was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, J.G.A.M. by a Marie-Curie Fellowship, and D.T.B by the National Geographic Society, UCLA (Faculty Senate and the Division of Life Sciences), a Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory research fellowship, and the NSF (IDBR-0754247, DEB1119660 and DEB-1557130 to D.T.B., and DBI 0242960, DBI-0731346 and REU1226713 to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory).


  • Aging
  • life-history strategies
  • reproductive trade-offs
  • resource allocation
  • Life-history strategies
  • Resource allocation
  • Reproductive trade-offs
  • SIZE
  • aging
  • LONG


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