Life history context of reproductive aging in a wild primate model

Authors

  • Jeanne Altmann,

    1. Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
    2. Institute for Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya.
    3. Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.
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  • Laurence Gesquiere,

    1. Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
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  • Jordi Galbany,

    1. Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.
    2. Secció d'Antropologia, Departament de Biologia Animal, Universitat de Barcelona. Barcelona, Spain
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  • Patrick O. Onyango,

    1. Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
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  • Susan C. Alberts

    1. Institute for Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya.
    2. Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.
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Address for correspondence: Jeanne Altmann, Princeton University, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Room 401 Guyot Hall, Princeton, New Jersey 08544. altj@princeton.edu

Abstract

The pace of reproductive aging has been of considerable interest, especially in regard to the long postreproductive period in modern women. Here we use data for both sexes from a 37-year longitudinal study of a wild baboon population to place reproductive aging within a life history context for this species, a primate relative of humans that evolved in the same savannah habitat as humans did. We examine the patterns and pace of reproductive aging, including birth rates and reproductive hormones for both sexes, and compare reproductive aging to age-related changes in several other traits. Reproductive senescence occurs later in baboon females than males. Delayed senescence in females relative to males is also found in several other traits, such as dominance status and body condition, but not in molar wear or glucocorticoid profiles. Survival, health, and well-being are the product of risk factors in morphological, physiological, and behavioral traits that differ in rate of senescence and in dependence on social or ecological conditions; some will be very sensitive to differences in circumstances and others less so.

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