Testing the effect of early‐life reproductive effort on age‐related decline in a wild insect

Rolando Rodríguez‐Muñoz, Jelle J. Boonekamp, Xing P. Liu, Ian Skicko, David N. Fisher, Paul Hopwood, Tom Tregenza* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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The disposable soma theory of ageing predicts that when organisms invest in reproduction they do so by reducing their investment in body maintenance, inducing a trade‐off between reproduction and survival. Experiments on invertebrates in the lab provide support for the theory by demonstrating the predicted responses to manipulation of reproductive effort or lifespan. However, experimental studies in birds and evidence from observational (nonmanipulative) studies in nature do not consistently reveal trade‐offs. Most species studied previously in the wild are mammals and birds that reproduce over multiple discrete seasons. This contrasts with temperate invertebrates, which typically have annual generations and reproduce over a single season. We expand the taxonomic range of senescence study systems to include life histories typical of most temperate invertebrates. We monitored reproductive effort, ageing, and survival in a natural field cricket population over ten years to test the prediction that individuals investing more in early‐reproduction senesce faster and die younger. We found no evidence of a trade‐off between early‐life reproductive effort and survival, and only weak evidence for a trade‐off with phenotypic senescence. We discuss the possibility that organisms with multiple discrete breeding seasons may have greater opportunities to express trade‐offs between reproduction and senescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-328
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information
Leverhulme Trust
Natural Environment Research Council. Grant Numbers: NE/E005403/1, NE/H02249X/1, NE/H02364X/1, NE/L003635/1, NE/R000328/1
European Union's Horizon 2020. Grant Number: CONSENT 792215


  • ageing
  • condition-dependence
  • disposable soma
  • insects
  • senescence
  • trade-off


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