Spatial variation in senescence rates in a bird metapopulation
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Original versionOecologia. 2016, 181 (3), 865-871. 10.1007/s00442-016-3615-4
Investigating factors which affect the decline in survival with age, i.e. actuarial senescence, is important in order to understand how demographic rates vary in wild populations. Although the evidence for the occurrence of actuarial senescence in wild populations is growing, very few studies have compared actuarial senescence rates between wild populations of the same species. We used data from a long-time study of demography of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) to investigate differences in rates of actuarial senescence between habitats and sub-populations. We also investigated whether rates of actuarial senescence differed between males and females. We found that rates of actuarial senescence showed large spatial variation. We also found that the onset of actuarial senescence varied between sub-populations. However, these differences were not significantly explained by a general difference in habitat type. We also found no significant difference in actuarial senescence rates between males and females. This study shows that senescence rates in natural populations may vary significantly between sub-populations and that failing to account for such differences may give a biased estimate of senescence rates of a species.