Is a decline in offspring quality a necessary consequence of maternal age?

Patricia J. Moore, W. Edwin Harris

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Recent studies in two species of Drosophila have demonstrated a negative effect of parental age on offspring fitness, including a reduced hatch rate of eggs and larval-to-adult viability. This has led to a call to consider the decline of offspring quality as a function of parental age in theoretical considerations of the evolution of ageing. We have tested whether a decline in egg and larval quality of older mothers is a general feature of senescence by examining it in the cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea. We also tested whether maternal age affected the reproductive potential of daughters. Although maternal age at first reproduction profoundly affected maternal fitness, there was no difference in hatch rate or larval viability between the offspring of young and old mothers. Likewise, the reproductive potential of the daughters of young and old mothers was the same. Thus, while maternal age effects may be important aspects of ageing in some systems, the generality and overall importance for theories of ageing remain unclear.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)s192-s194
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • Ageing
    • Maternal age effects
    • Offspring quality
    • Senescence


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