Terminal life history: late-life fecundity and survival in experimental populations of Drosophila melanogaster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There are two life history landmarks that can be used to define the terminal period in individual Drosophila melanogaster females: the cessation of daily oviposition, which defines the start of the retired stage, and final oviposition, which defines the start of post-ovipository survival. The terminal period is a substantial component of D. melanogaster life history. Analysis of published data on the daily fecundity and survival of 3971 individually maintained, mated female flies reveals that the terminal period is far more variable within populations than other life history components, including total adult life span. It has been reported that there is a negative correlation between fecundity and duration of the terminal state in recently collected wild stocks. Here I show that the negative correlation occurs in multiple inbred and outbred lab-adapted populations as well. In terms of proportion of adult life, lower fecundity flies spend on average twice as much time in the terminal stage as higher fecundity flies from the same population. Both high and low fecundity flies experience end-of-life plateaus in mortality, with the former exhibiting higher plateau levels. The negative correlation between fecundity and terminal survival is of sufficient magnitude to create heterogeneity among the oldest old: the final 10% of survivors are predominately flies with a history of high fecundity, but about one in five is a low fecundity fly with long terminal stage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-730
Number of pages10
JournalBiogerontology
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Keywords

  • Fecundity
  • Life span
  • Oldest-old
  • Post-ovipository survival
  • Retirement

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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