Effects of maternal age and stress on offspring quality in a viviparous fly

Jennifer S Lord, Robert Leyland, Lee R Haines, Antoine M G Barreaux, Michael B Bonsall, Stephen J Torr, Sinead English

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Many organisms show signs of deterioration with age in terms of survival and reproduction. We tested whether intraspecific variation in such senescence patterns can be driven by resource availability or reproductive history. We did this by manipulating nutritional stress and age at first reproduction and measuring age-dependent reproductive output in tsetse (Glossina morsitans morsitans), a viviparous fly with high maternal allocation. Across all treatments, offspring weight followed a bell-shaped curve with maternal age. Nutritionally stressed females had a higher probability of abortion and produced offspring with lower starvation tolerance. There was no evidence of an increased rate of reproductive senescence in nutritionally stressed females, or a reduced rate due to delayed mating, as measured by patterns of abortion, offspring weight or offspring starvation tolerance. Therefore, although we found evidence of reproductive senescence in tsetse, our results did not indicate that resource allocation trade-offs or costs of reproduction increase the rate of senescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2113-2122
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number10
Early online date15 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jessica Lingley for assistance in the analysis of the fat content of pupae and Glyn Vale for input on an earlier version of the manuscript, and John Hargrove, Matt Keeling and Kat Rock for general discussion. We thank Daniel May for digitising the LSTM tsetse colony laboratory books which provided important pilot data for our experiments. The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, grant numbers BB/P005888/1 and BB/P006159/1. SE was supported by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (DH140236).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • maternal allocation
  • senescence
  • tsetse


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