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Effects of maternal age and stress on offspring quality in a viviparous fly
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  • Jennifer Lord,
  • Robert Leyland,
  • Lee Haines,
  • Antoine Barreaux,
  • Michael Bonsall,
  • Stephen Torr,
  • Sinead English
Jennifer Lord
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
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Robert Leyland
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
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Lee Haines
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
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Antoine Barreaux
University of Bristol
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Michael Bonsall
University of Oxford
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Stephen Torr
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
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Sinead English
University of Bristol
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Abstract

Many organisms show signs of deterioration with age, both in terms of survival and reproduction. Theory suggests that variation in such senescence patterns can be driven by resource availability or reproductive history. To test this prediction, we experimentally manipulated nutritional stress and age at first reproduction to investigate senescence in tsetse flies (Glossina). Across all treatments, offspring weight and survival followed a concave curve with mother age. Nutritionally stressed females had accelerated survival senescence, higher probability of abortion and produced smaller offspring. Despite this, there was no evidence of accelerated reproductive senescence in nutritionally stressed females and no evidence of a delay in senescence in females mated later. Offspring quality may be prioritised over somatic maintenance. Younger females who were nutritionally stressed produced offspring with the lowest starvation tolerance. As tsetse are vectors of trypanosomes, our results may have implications for population dynamics and trypanosome transmission in times of stress.