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Somatic Senescence: Evidence from Female Richardson's Ground Squirrels

D. R. Broussard, Gail R. Michener, T. S. Risch and F. S. Dobson
Oikos
Vol. 108, No. 3 (Mar., 2005), pp. 591-601
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3548804
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Somatic Senescence: Evidence from Female Richardson's Ground Squirrels
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Abstract

We studied reproductive and somatic investments in >700 female Richardson's ground squirrels (Spermophilus richardsonii) of known age over a 14-year period to evaluate three hypotheses, restraint, senescence, and residual reproductive value, proposed to explain age-specific life history patterns in iteroparous vertebrates. We found that reproductive investment, measured as litter mass at first emergence from the natal nest, did not differ among age classes. Although yearling female Richardson's ground squirrels made a greater somatic investment during reproduction than older females, they produced similar numbers and mass of offspring as older females. Reproductive investment did not decline with age, though active season somatic investment was lowest in the oldest females. Somatic investment during reproduction was highest in yearlings. This combination of age-related changes in somatic investment unaccompanied by changes in reproductive investment was not well explained by any of the hypotheses examined, though the senescence hypothesis best explained the combination of declining somatic investment and declining survival of the oldest females. Our results supported the ideas that reproductive and somatic senescence evolve independently, and that somatic senescence may be more common in relatively smaller species.

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