Condition-dependent mortality exacerbates male (but not female) reproductive senescence and the potential for sexual conflict

Zahida Sultanova, Roberto García-Roa, Pau Carazo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Disentangling the relationship between age and reproduction is central to understand life-history evolution, and recent evidence shows that considering condition-dependent mortality is a crucial piece of this puzzle. For example, nonrandom mortality of ‘low-condition’ individuals can lead to an increase in average lifespan. However, selective disappearance of such low-condition individuals may also affect reproductive senescence at the population level due to trade-offs between physiological functions related to survival/lifespan and the maintenance of reproductive functions. Here, we address the idea that condition-dependent extrinsic mortality (i.e. simulated predation) may increase the age-related decline in male reproductive success and with it the potential for sexual conflict, by comparing reproductive ageing in Drosophila melanogaster male/female cohorts exposed (or not) to condition-dependent simulated predation across time. Although female reproductive senescence was not affected by predation, male reproductive senescence was considerably higher under predation, due mainly to an accelerated decline in offspring viability of ‘surviving’ males with age. This sex-specific effect suggests that condition-dependent extrinsic mortality can exacerbate survival-reproduction trade-offs in males, which are typically under stronger condition-dependent selection than females. Interestingly, condition-dependent extrinsic mortality did not affect mating success, hinting that accelerated reproductive senescence is due to a decrease in male post-copulatory fitness components. Our results support the recent proposal that male ageing can be an important source of sexual conflict, further suggesting this effect could be exacerbated under more natural conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1086-1096
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • life-history evolution
  • natural selection
  • sexual selection and conflicts
  • trade-offs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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