Idle slow as you grow old: longitudinal age-related metabolic decline in a wild passerine

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Abstract

Physiological changes due to aging are intensively studied as they have far-reaching implications for the mechanistic and evolutionary theories of senescence. In this respect, metabolic rate has been suggested to play a role for the deterioration and damage of cells and tissues with age, partly due to the generation of reactive oxygen species. To mitigate such damage, individuals can be predicted to reduce basal metabolic rate (BMR) with age. This prediction has been verified in humans and some laboratory animals but never in wild animal populations. We analyzed the change in BMR within individuals across years in two wild populations of great tit (Parus major) differing in BMR. Great tits, living under stressful conditions towards the northern limit of their distribution, decreased their BMR as they aged whereas no such decrease was found in a southern population. Thus, we found a clear decline only in the population with the highest BMR levels. This study provides the first evidence of an age-related decline in BMR for a wild homeotherm.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences

Keywords

  • Rate of, Aging, Basal metabolic rate, Functional senescence, living-free-radical damage hypothesis, Parus major
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-184
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Volume24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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