Inbreeding depression and male survivorship in drosophila: Implications for senescence theory

William R. Swindell, Juan L. Bouzat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The extent to which inbreeding depression affects longevity and patterns of survivorship is an important issue from several research perspectives, including evolutionary biology, conservation biology, and the genetic analysis of quantitative traits. However, few previous inbreeding depression studies have considered longevity as a focal life-history trait. We maintained laboratory populations of Drosophila melanogaster at census population sizes of 2 and 10 male-female pairs for up to 66 generations and performed repeated assays of male survivorship throughout this time period. On average, significant levels of inbreeding depression were observed for median life span and age-specific mortality. For age-specific mortality, the severity of inbreeding depression increased over the life span. We found that a baseline inbreeding load of 0.307 lethal equivalents per gamete affected age-specific mortality, and that this value increased at a rate of 0.046 per day of the life span. With respect to some survivorship parameters, the differentiation of lineages was nonlinear with respect to the inbreeding coefficient, which suggested that nonadditive genetic variation contributed to variation among lineages. These findings provide insights into the genetic basis of longevity as a quantitative trait and have implications regarding the mutationaccumulation evolutionary explanation of senescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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