• body size;
  • field study;
  • life history;
  • Protopiophila litigata;
  • senescence;
  • sexual selection;
  • trade-off;
  • wild population


Little is known about the importance of trade-offs between ageing and other life history traits, or the effects of ageing on sexual selection, particularly in wild populations suffering high extrinsic mortality rates. Life history theory suggests that trade-offs between reproduction and somatic maintenance may constrain individuals with higher initial reproductive rates to deteriorate more rapidly, resulting in reduced sexual selection strength. However, this trade-off may be masked by increased condition dependence of reproductive effort in older individuals. We tested for this trade-off in males in a wild population of antler flies (Protopiophila litigata). High mating rate was associated with reduced longevity, as a result of increased short-term mortality risk or accelerated ageing in traits affecting viability. In contrast, large body size was associated with accelerated ageing in traits affecting mating success, resulting in reduced sexual selection for large body size. Thus, ageing can affect sexual selection and evolution in wild populations.