An understanding of the factors governing reproductive success has fundamental implications for population demography, conservation, selection and adaptation. Although a consistent positive correlation between lifetime reproductive success and longevity has been reported for many iteroparous organisms, few studies have explored how longevity influences annual individual performance. In this study we show (1) that longevity and lifetime reproductive success are positively but not linearly correlated, (2) that short-lived individuals have higher annual reproductive success, (3) that the generally lower success of the last breeding occasion increased with females’ longevity, and (4) that long-lived females have higher chances of rearing long-lived females. We suggest that experience and the increase in the number of reproductive events with longevity are key processes leading to a strong correlation between (1) lifetime reproductive success and longevity and (2) mother and daughter longevities. Our results demonstrate the importance of long term studies that follow multiple generations in gaining a full understanding of the factors affecting reproductive success.