Predation by Bears Drives Senescence in Natural Populations of Salmon.
Carlson SM, Hilborn R, Hendry AP, Quinn TP
PLOS One (2007)
Category: miscellaneous ¤ Added: Jan 24, 2008 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
Classic evolutionary theory predicts that populations experiencing higher rates of environmentally caused (‘‘extrinsic’’) mortality should senesce more rapidly, but this theory usually neglects plausible relationships between an individual’s senescent condition and its susceptibility to extrinsic mortality. We tested for the evolutionary importance of this condition dependence by comparing senescence rates among natural populations of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) subject to varying degrees of predation by brown bears (Ursus arctos). We related senescence rates in six populations to (1) the overall rate of extrinsic mortality, and (2) the degree of condition dependence in this mortality. Senescence rates were determined by modeling the mortality of individually-tagged breeding salmon at each site. The overall rate of extrinsic mortality was estimated as the long-term average of the annual percentage of salmon killed by bears. The degree of condition dependence was estimated as the extent to which bears killed salmon that exhibited varying degrees of senescence. We found that the degree of condition dependence in extrinsic mortality was very important in driving senescence: populations where bears selectively killed fish showing advanced senescence were those that senesced least rapidly. The overall rate of extrinsic mortality also contributed to among-population variation in senescence-but to a lesser extent. Condition-dependent susceptibility to extrinsic mortality should be incorporated more often into theoretical models and should be explicitly tested in natural populations.