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Sex differences in adult lifespan and aging rates of mortality across wild mammals – New paper published in PNAS

In human populations, women consistently outlive men, which suggests profound biological foundations for sex differences in survival. Quantifying whether such sex differences are also pervasive in wild mammals is a crucial challenge in both evolutionary biology and biogerontology. By our Dalia A. Conde, Fernando Colchero and their co-authors

In human populations, women live longer than men. While it is commonly assumed that this pattern of long-lived females vs. short-lived males constitutes the rule in mammals, the magnitude of the sex differences in lifespan and increase of mortality rate with advancing age remain to be quantified. Here, we demonstrate that, in the wild, mammalian females live longer than males but we did not detect any sex differences in aging rates. Contrary to a widespread hypothesis, we reveal that sex differences in life history strategies do not detectably influence the magnitude of sex differences in either lifespan or aging rates.

We compile demographic data from 134 mammal populations, encompassing 101 species, to show that the female’s median lifespan is on average 18.6% longer than that of conspecific males, whereas in humans the female advantage is on average 7.8%. On the contrary, we do not find any consistent sex differences in aging rates. In addition, sex differences in median adult lifespan and aging rates are both highly variable across species. Our analyses suggest that the magnitude of sex differences in mammalian mortality patterns is likely shaped by local environmental conditions in interaction with the sex-specific costs of sexual selection.

Here you can read the paper. 

CPop contributing authors:
Dalia A. Conde
Fernando Colchero

Editing was completed: 23.03.2020