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Quantitative Genetics in the Wild$
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Anne Charmantier, Dany Garant, and Loeske E. B. Kruuk

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674237

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199674237.001.0001

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The quantitative genetics of senescence in wild animals

The quantitative genetics of senescence in wild animals

(p.68) Chapter 5 The quantitative genetics of senescence in wild animals
Quantitative Genetics in the Wild

Anne Charmantier

Jon E. Brommer

Daniel H. Nussey

Oxford University Press

There is now overwhelming empirical evidence for age-related declines in fitness-related traits, i.e. senescence, during adulthood in wild vertebrate populations, presumably underpinned by physiological deterioration. Longitudinal field studies are also demonstrating that the rates of these observed declines vary among individuals and among traits. From an evolutionary perspective, the challenge remains to determine the contribution of genetic sources to this variation and the genetic correlations among traits underpinning fitness at different ages in natural systems. Although laboratory studies are revealing an ever-increasing amount about potential genetic and physiological pathways regulating lifespan and ageing in model systems, quantitative genetic studies in the wild can provide unique insights into how selection has shaped and maintained variation in ageing trajectories and senescence under complex, natural conditions. This chapter briefly discusses the classical evolutionary theories of ageing, emphasising the importance of estimating age-dependent patterns of genetic (co)variance (genotype-by-age interactions; G × A), rather than attempting to disentangle non-mutually exclusive putative mechanisms such as mutation accumulation and antagonistic pleiotropy. It provides an overview of approaches for quantifying G × A, emphasising the importance of function-valued trait models, such as the random regression animal model, and presents a critical review of the limited number of studies that have implemented these approaches in the context of wild populations. Finally, this chapter identifies a number of statistical issues/challenges that are likely to hold back much needed developments in this field and provides recommendations of ways to overcome these challenges as well as for avenues for future work.

Keywords:   ageing, antagonistic pleiotropy, genotype-by-age interaction, mutation accumulation, random regression, function-valued trait model, animal model

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