Data and script from: Maternal Care Leads to the Evolution of Long, Slow Lives

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These files contain data supporting all results in Zipple et al, Maternal Care Leads to the Evolution of Long, Slow Lives. In Zipple et al we found: Animals, and mammals in particular, vary widely in their “pace of life,” with some species living long lives and reproducing infrequently (slow life histories) and others living short lives and reproducing often (fast life histories). These species also vary in the importance of maternal care in offspring fitness: in some species, offspring are fully independent of their mothers following a brief period of nutritional input, while others display a long period of continued dependence on mothers well after nutritional dependence. Here we hypothesize that these two axes of variation are causally related to each other, such that extended dependence of offspring on maternal presence leads to the evolution of longer lives at the expense of reproduction. We use a combination of deterministic modeling and stochastic agent-based modeling to explore how empirically-observed links between maternal survival and offspring fitness are likely to shape the evolution of mortality and fertility. Each of our modelling approaches leads to the same conclusion: when maternal survival has strong impacts on the survival of offspring and grandoffspring, populations evolve longer lives with less frequent reproduction. Our results suggest the slow life histories of humans and other primates as well as other long-lived, highly social animals such as hyenas, whales, and elephants, are partially the result of the strong maternal care that these animals display. We have designed our models to be readily parameterized with demographic data that is routinely collected by long-term researchers, which will facilitate more thorough testing of our hypothesis.

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Please cite as: Matthew Zipple, H Kern Reeve, Orca Jimmy Peniston. (2024) Data and script from: Maternal Care Leads to the Evolution of Long, Slow Lives. [dataset] Cornell University eCommons Repository.


Cornell University, Klarman Postdoctoral Fellowship National Science Foundation, NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (Grant # 2109636)

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pace of life; life history; maternal care


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A. M. Bronikowski, et al., Female and male life tables for seven wild primate species. Sci Data 3, 160006 (2016).
AnAge Database of Animal Ageing and Longevity:

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