Reproductive potential predicts longevity of female Mediterranean fruitflies

Hans-George Müller, James R. Carey, Deqing Wu, Pablo Liedo, James W. Vaupel

Abstract

Reproduction exacts a price in terms of decreased survival. Our analysis of the interplay between age patterns of fecundity and mortality for individual female medflies (Ceratitis capitata) revealed that individual mortality is associated with the time–dynamics of the egg–laying trajectory. In a sample of 531 medflies, we found that each individual has a characteristic rate of decline in egg laying with age. This defines an individual's rate of reproductive exhaustion. This rate was shown to predict subsequent mortality. The larger the remaining reproductive potential, the lower the subsequent mortality. An increased mortality risk was seen in flies for which egg production declined rapidly early on, irrespective of the level of egg production. Thus, reproductive potential and lifetime are coupled in such a way that those flies which are able to profit most from an extended life span in terms of increased egg output are indeed likely to live longer.

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