Patterns of philopatry and longevity contribute to the evolution of post-reproductive lifespan in mammals.
ABSTRACT: While menopause has long been known as a characteristic trait of human reproduction, evidence for post-reproductive lifespan (PRLS) has recently been found in other mammals. Adaptive and non-adaptive hypotheses have been proposed to explain the evolution of PRLS, but formal tests of these are rare. We use a phylogenetic approach to evaluate hypotheses for the evolution of PRLS among mammals. In contrast to theoretical models predicting that PRLS may be promoted by male philopatry (which increases relatedness between a female and her group in old age), we find little evidence that male philopatry led to the evolution of a post-reproductive period. However, the proportion of life spent post-reproductive was related to lifespan and patterns of philopatry, suggesting that the duration of PRLS may be impacted by both non-adaptive and adaptive processes. Finally, the proportion of females experiencing PRLS was higher in species with male philopaty and larger groups, in accordance with adaptive models of PRLS. We suggest that the origin of PRLS primarily follows the non-adaptive 'mismatch' scenario, but that patterns of philopatry may subsequently confer adaptive benefits of late-life helping.
Project description:In naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber), some non-breeding males show faster growth and are more likely to disperse than others. These differences have been suggested to be the result of a specialized developmental strategy leading to shorter philopatry and independent breeding, as opposed to extended philopatry as non-reproductive helpers. However, it is unclear whether fast-growing males disperse sooner than slow-growing males. An alternative explanation is that variation in quality between individuals causes high-quality individuals to grow quickly and maximize dispersal success without reducing philopatry. Here we show that in Damaraland mole-rats (Fukomys damarensis), males that subsequently disperse successfully grow faster than other non-reproductive males. This pattern is predicted by both hypotheses and does not discriminate between them. However, contrary to the suggestion that faster growth represents a developmental specialization for early dispersal, fast-growing and slow-growing males remained equally long in their natal groups. Our study provides no evidence for adaptive divergence in male development leading either to early dispersal or extended philopatry. Instead of representing specialized dispersers, fast-growing males of this species may be high-quality individuals.
Project description:Without genetic variation, species cannot cope with changing environments, and evolution does not proceed. In endangered species, adaptive potential may be eroded by decreased population sizes and processes that further reduce gene flow such as philopatry and local adaptations. Here, we focused on the philopatric and endangered loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting in Cape Verde as a model system to investigate the link between adaptive potential and philopatry. We produced a dataset of three complementary genomic regions to investigate female philopatric behaviour (mitochondrial DNA), male-mediated gene flow (microsatellites) and adaptive potential (major histocompatibility complex, MHC). Results revealed genetically distinct nesting colonies, indicating remarkably small-scale philopatric behaviour of females. Furthermore, these colonies also harboured local pools of MHC alleles, especially at the margins of the population's distribution, which are therefore important reserves of additional diversity for the population. Meanwhile, directional male-mediated gene flow from the margins of distribution sustains the adaptive potential for the entire rookery. We therefore present the first evidence for a positive association between philopatry and locally adapted genomic regions. Contrary to expectation, we propose that philopatry conserves a high adaptive potential at the margins of a distribution, while asymmetric gene flow maintains genetic connectivity with the rest of the population.
Project description:While inbreeding avoidance is widely accepted as the major driver of female natal dispersal, the evolution of male philopatry is still poorly understood and discussed to be driven by male mating strategy, mate competition among male kin and kin cooperation. During a twelve-year study, we gathered detailed genetic and observational data of individually marked proboscis bats to assess the degree of male philopatry as well as its costs and benefits to improve the understanding of its evolution. Our results reveal several patrilines with simultaneous presence of closely related males and a small proportion of unrelated immigrant males in their colonies. Philopatric males benefit from avoiding the costs of immigration into foreign colonies through significantly longer tenure, better integration (i.e. frequent nocturnal presence in the colonies) and consequently significantly higher reproductive success compared to immigrant males. Finally, we illustrate that despite a high proportion of philopatric males in the groups, the number of closely related competing males is low. Thus, the hypothesised costs of mate competition among male kin seem to be low in promiscuous mammalian societies with unrelated females and a small degree of male immigration and are readily outweighed by the benefits of staying in the natal group.
Project description:Humans and orcas are among the very rare species that have a prolonged post-reproductive lifespan (PRLS), during which the aging process continues. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) derived from mitochondria and from the NADPH oxidase (NOX) enzymes of innate immune cells are known to contribute to aging, with the former thought to be dominant. CD33-related-Siglecs are immune receptors that recognize self-associated-molecular-patterns and modulate NOX-derived-ROS. We herewith demonstrate a strong correlation of lifespan with CD33rSIGLEC gene number in 26 species, independent of body weight or phylogeny. The correlation is stronger when considering total CD33rSIGLEC gene number rather than those encoding inhibitory and activating subsets, suggesting that lifetime balancing of ROS is important. Combining independent lines of evidence including the short half-life and spontaneous activation of neutrophils, we calculate that even without inter-current inflammation, a major source of lifetime ROS exposure may actually be neutrophil NOX-derived. However, genomes of human supercentenarians (>110 years) do not harbor a significantly higher number of functional CD33rSIGLEC genes. Instead, lifespan correlation with CD33rSIGLEC gene number was markedly strengthened by excluding the post-reproductive lifespan of humans and orcas (R<sup>2</sup> = 0.83; P < .0001). Thus, CD33rSIGLEC modulation of ROS likely contributes to maximum reproductive lifespan, but other unknown mechanisms could be important to PRLS.
Project description:1. While-classical life-history theory does not predict post-reproductive lifespan (PRLS), it has been detected in a great number of taxa, leading to the view that it is a broadly conserved trait, and attempts to reconcile theory with these observations. We suggest an alternative: the apparently wide distribution of significant PRLS is an artifact of insufficient methods.2. PRLS is traditionally measured in units of time between each individual's last parturition and death, after excluding those individuals for whom this interval is short. A mean of this measure is then calculated as a population value. We show this traditional population measure (which we denote PrT) to be inconsistently calculated, inherently biased, strongly correlated with overall longevity, uninformative on the importance of PRLS in a population's life-history, unable to use the most-commonly available form of relevant data and without a realistic null hypothesis. Using data altered to ensure that the null hypothesis is true, we find a false positive rate of 0.47 for PrT.3. We propose an alternative population measure, using life-table methods. Post-reproductive Representation (PrR) is the proportion of adult years lived which are post-reproductive. We briefly derive PrR and discuss its properties. We employ a demographic simulation, based on the null hypothesis of simultaneous and proportional decline in survivorship and fecundity, to produce a null distribution for PrR based on the age-specific rates of a population.4. In an example analysis, using data on 84 populations of human and non-human primates, we demonstrate the ability of PrR to represent the effects of artificial protection from mortality and of humanness on PRLS. PrR is found to be higher for all human populations under a wide range of conditions than for any non-human primate in our sample. A strong effect of artificial protection is found, but humans under the most-adverse conditions still achieve PrR of >0.3.5. PrT should not be used as a population measure, and should be used as an individual measure only with great caution. The use of PrR as an intuitive, statistically valid and intercomparable population life-history measure is encouraged.
Project description:Standard evolutionary theory of ageing predicts weaker purifying selection on genes critical to later life stages. Prolonged post-reproductive lifespan (PPRLS), observed only in a few species like humans, is likely a result of disparate relaxation of purifying selection on survival and reproduction in late life stages. While the exact origin of PPRLS is under debate, many researchers agree on hypotheses like mother-care and grandmother-care, which ascribe PPRLS to investment into future generations-provision to one's descendants to enhance their overall reproductive success. Here, we simulate an agent-based model, which properly accounts for age-specific selection, to examine how different investment strategies affect the strength of purifying selection on survival and reproduction. We observed in the simulations that investment strategies that allow a female individual to remain contributive to its own descendants (infants and adults) at late life stages may lead to differential relaxation of selection on survival and reproduction, and incur the adaptive evolution of PPRLS.
Project description:The complex processes involved with animal migration have long been a subject of biological interest, and broad-scale movement patterns of many marine turtle populations still remain unresolved. While it is widely accepted that once marine turtles reach sexual maturity they home to natal areas for nesting or reproduction, the role of philopatry to natal areas during other life stages has received less scrutiny, despite widespread evidence across the taxa. Here we report on genetic research that indicates that juvenile hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the eastern Pacific Ocean use foraging grounds in the region of their natal beaches, a pattern we term natal foraging philopatry. Our findings confirm that traditional views of natal homing solely for reproduction are incomplete and that many marine turtle species exhibit philopatry to natal areas to forage. Our results have important implications for life-history research and conservation of marine turtles and may extend to other wide-ranging marine vertebrates that demonstrate natal philopatry.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Short post-reproductive lifespan is widespread across species, but prolonged post-reproductive life-stages of potential adaptive significance have been reported only in few mammals with extreme longevity. Long post-reproductive lifespan contradicts classical evolutionary predictions of simultaneous senescence in survival and reproduction, and raises the question of whether extreme longevity in mammals promotes such a life-history. Among terrestrial mammals, elephants share the features with great apes and humans, of having long lifespan and offspring with long dependency. However, little data exists on the frequency of post-reproductive lifespan in elephants. Here we use extensive demographic records on semi-captive Asian elephants (n?=?1040) and genealogical data on pre-industrial women (n?=?5336) to provide the first comparisons of age-specific reproduction, survival and post-reproductive lifespan in both of these long-lived species.<h4>Results</h4>We found that fertility decreased after age 50 in elephants, but the pattern differed from a total loss of fertility in menopausal women with many elephants continuing to reproduce at least until the age of 65 years. The probability of entering a non-reproductive state increased steadily in elephants from the earliest age of reproduction until age 65, with the longer living elephants continuing to reproduce until older ages, in contrast to humans whose termination probability increased rapidly after age 35 and reached 1 at 56 years, but did not depend on longevity. Post-reproductive lifespan reached 11-17 years in elephants and 26-27 years in humans living until old age (depending on method), but whereas half of human adult lifespan (of those reproductive females surviving to the age of 5% fecundity) was spent as post-reproductive, only one eighth was in elephants. Consequently, although some elephants have long post-reproductive lifespans, relatively few individuals reach such a phase and the decline in fertility generally parallels declines in survivorship in contrast to humans with a decoupling of senescence in somatic and reproductive functions.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our results show that the reproductive and survival patterns of Asian elephants differ from other long-lived animals exhibiting menopause, such as humans, and extreme longevity alone does not promote the evolution of menopause or post-reproductive lifespan, adding weight to the unusual kin-selected benefits suggested to favour such traits in humans and killer whales.
Project description:Menopause, the permanent cessation of ovulation, occurs in humans well before the end of the expected lifespan, leading to an extensive post-reproductive period which remains a puzzle for evolutionary biologists. All human populations display this particularity; thus, it is difficult to empirically evaluate the conditions for its emergence. In this study, we used artificial neural networks to model the emergence and evolution of allocation decisions related to reproduction in simulated populations. When allocation decisions were allowed to freely evolve, both menopause and extensive post-reproductive life-span emerged under some ecological conditions. This result allowed us to test various hypotheses about the required conditions for the emergence of menopause and extensive post-reproductive life-span. Our findings did not support the Maternal Hypothesis (menopause has evolved to avoid the risk of dying in childbirth, which is higher in older women). In contrast, results supported a shared prediction from the Grandmother Hypothesis and the Embodied Capital Model. Indeed, we found that extensive post-reproductive lifespan allows resource reallocation to increase fertility of the children and survival of the grandchildren. Furthermore, neural capital development and the skill intensiveness of the foraging niche, rather than strength, played a major role in shaping the age profile of somatic and cognitive senescence in our simulated populations. This result supports the Embodied Capital Model rather than the Grand-Mother Hypothesis. Finally, in simulated populations where menopause had already evolved, we found that reduced post-reproductive lifespan lead to reduced children's fertility and grandchildren's survival. The results are discussed in the context of the evolutionary emergence of menopause and extensive post-reproductive life-span.
Project description:Molecular analyses in several taxa have consistently shown that genes involved in reproduction are rapidly evolving and subjected to positive selection. The mechanism behind this evolution is not clear, but several proposed hypotheses involve the coevolution between males and females. In Drosophila, several male reproductive proteins (Acps) involved in male-male and male-female interactions show evidence of rapid adaptive evolution. What has been missing from the Drosophila literature is the identification and analysis of female reproductive genes. Recently, an evolutionary expressed sequence tag analysis of Drosophila female reproductive tract genes identified 169 candidate female reproductive genes. Many of these candidate genes still await further molecular analysis and independent verification of positive selection. Our goal was to expand our understanding of the molecular evolution of Drosophila female reproductive genes with a detailed polymorphism and divergence study on seven additional candidate female reproductive genes and a reanalysis of two genes from the above study. We demonstrate that 6 candidate female genes of the 9 genes surveyed show evidence of positive selection using both polymorphism and divergence data. One of these proteins (CG17012) is modeled to reveal that the sites under selection fall around and within the active site of this protease, suggesting potential differences between species. We discuss our results in light of potential function as well as interaction with male reproductive proteins.