An evolutionary heterogeneity model of late-life fecundity in Drosophila.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-006-9042-x
There is now a significant body of research that establishes the deceleration of mortality rates in late life and their ultimate leveling off on a late-life plateau. Natural selection has been offered as one mechanism responsible for these plateaus. The force of natural selection should also exert such effects on female fecundity. We have already developed a model of female fecundity in late life that incorporates the general predictions of the evolutionary model. The original evolutionary model predicts a decline in fecundity from a peak in early life, followed by a plateau with non-zero fecundity in late life. However, in Drosophila there is also a well-defined decline in fecundity among dying flies, here called the "death spiral". This effect produces heterogeneity between dying and non-dying flies. Here a hybrid evolutionary heterogeneity model is developed to accommodate both the evolutionary plateau prediction and the death spiral. It is shown that this evolutionary heterogeneity model gives a much better fit to late-life fecundity data.