Sexual selection and senescence: do seed beetle males (Acanthoscelides obtectus, Bruchidae, Coleoptera) shape the longevity of their mates?
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Although the reasons why organisms age and die are generally well understood, it has recently been suggested that an optimal life span has evolved not only as the result of trade-offs between reproductive performances early and late in life, but also that a balance between the costs and benefits of the number of mating has also played an important role in the evolution of ageing in both sexes. By using four seed beetle (Acanthoscelides obtectus) lines selected for different life history traits, but which have also inadvertently created monoandrous and polyandrous conditions, we showed that males evolved to affect the mortality patterns of females in a way consistent to the postmating sexual selection generated by sexually antagonistic co-evolution theory. Monoandrous males, irrespectively of body weight and other life history traits specific to their lines, evolved to increase the longevity of control females kept under starvation and suppressed fecundity, compared with males that originated in the lines with effectively polyandrous conditions. When females were allowed to lay eggs, the effects of males from different lines and mating type history on the senescence of females were substantially weaker. We found that males in the line that was evolved to decelerate senescence and polyandrous conditions stimulate the earlier onset of females' oviposition, relative to males stemmed from the line with accelerated senescence and monoandrous conditions. This fact may explain the absence of difference in the mean longevities between the control females mated to these males and highlight the importance of sexual selection in the evolution of ageing.