Early-late life trade-offs and the evolution of ageing in the wild

Here, we compiled 26 studies of free-ranging vertebrate populations that explicitly tested for a trade-off between performance in early and late life. Our review brings overall support for the presence of early-late life trade-offs, suggesting that the limitation of available resources leads individuals to trade somatic maintenance later in life for high allocation to reproduction early in life. We discuss our results in the light of two closely related theories of ageing—the disposable soma and the antagonistic pleiotropy theories—and propose that the principle of energy allocation roots the ageing process in the evolution of life-history strategies.