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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Ageing in a variable habitat: environmental stress affects senescence in parasite resistance in St Kilda Soay sheep
Authors: Hayward, Adam
Wilson, Alastair J
Pilkington, Jill G
Pemberton, Josephine M
Kruuk, Loeske E B
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Keywords: ageing
environmental dependence
strongyle helminths
Soay sheep
faecal egg counts
Issue Date: Oct-2009
Publisher: The Royal Society
Citation: Hayward A, Wilson AJ, Pilkington JG, Pemberton JM & Kruuk LEB (2009) Ageing in a variable habitat: environmental stress affects senescence in parasite resistance in St Kilda Soay sheep, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276 (1672), pp. 3477-3485.
Abstract: Despite widespread empirical evidence for a general deterioration in the majority of traits with advancing age, it is unclear whether the progress of senescence is chronologically determined, or whether factors such as environmental conditions experienced over the lifespan are more important. We explored the relative importance of ‘chronological’ and ‘environmental’ measures of age to changes in parasite resistance across the lifespan of free-living Soay sheep. Our results show that individuals experience an increase in parasite burden, as indicated by gastrointestinal helminth faecal egg count (FEC) with chronological age. However, chronological age fails to fully explain changes in FEC because a measure of environmental age, cumulative environmental stress, predicts an additional increase in FEC once chronological age has been accounted for. Additionally, we show that in females age-specific changes are dependent upon the environmental conditions experienced across individuals' life histories: increases in FEC with age were greatest among individuals that had experienced the highest degree of stress. Our results illustrate that chronological age alone may not always correspond to biological age, particularly in variable environments. In these circumstances, measures of age that capture the cumulative stresses experienced by an individual may be useful for understanding the process of senescence.
Type: Journal Article
DOI Link:
Rights: © 2009 The Royal Society This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Affiliation: Biological and Environmental Sciences
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh

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