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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Mar 31;112(13):4021-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1422715112. Epub 2015 Mar 9.

Reduced fitness in progeny from old parents in a natural population.

Author information

1
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom; Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany; and julia.schroeder@gmail.com.
2
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom; Department of Zoology, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.
3
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom;

Abstract

A nongenetic, transgenerational effect of parental age on offspring fitness has been described in many taxa in the laboratory. Such a transgenerational fitness effect will have important influences on population dynamics, population age structure, and the evolution of aging and lifespan. However, effects of parental age on offspring lifetime fitness have never been demonstrated in a natural population. We show that parental age has sex-specific negative effects on lifetime fitness, using data from a pedigreed insular population of wild house sparrows. Birds whose parents were older produced fewer recruits annually than birds with younger parents, and the reduced number of recruits translated into a lifetime fitness difference. Using a long-term cross-fostering experiment, we demonstrate that this parental age effect is unlikely to be the result of changes in the environment but that it potentially is epigenetically inherited. Our study reveals the hidden consequences of late-life reproduction that persist into the next generation.

KEYWORDS:

aging; epigenetic; indirect effects; senescence; transgenerational

PMID:
25775600
PMCID:
PMC4386340
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1422715112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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