Climate Variability and the Evolution of Longevity

A recent paper suggests that resistance to climatic variablity might be one reason why increased longevity can win out in an evolutionary battle with short lived species that reproduce more rapidly: "We analyzed multiyear demographic data for 36 plant and animal species with a broad range of life histories and types of environment to ask how sensitive their long-term stochastic population growth rates are likely to be to changes in the means and standard deviations of vital rates (survival, reproduction, growth) in response to changing climate. ... Short-lived species (insects and annual plants and algae) are predicted to be more strongly (and negatively) affected by increasing vital rate variability relative to longer-lived species (perennial plants, birds, ungulates). ... Our results highlight the potential vulnerability of short-lived species to an increasingly variable climate." You might also recall other work suggesting that crowding effects can lead to runaway evolution of extreme longevity.


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