, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 157-160

Male Reproductive Strategy and Decreased Longevity

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An explanation of the inter-gender difference in longevity consistent with the 'disposable soma' theory of ageing is proposed. It is based on the concept of r-K selection as applied to the inter-gender situation. The concept predicts that the gender with a higher potential reproductive rate (males) should invest relatively less in somatic maintenance, which in its turn should result in a lower longevity according to the 'disposable soma' theory of ageing. In females, which are interpreted as K-selected organisms, the reproductive strategy strongly depends on steady, secure constitution designed for oocyte/embryo bearing and is therefore closely related to somatic maintenance, whereas in (r-selected) males it has a greater behavioural component - risky, variable, with a greater potential reproductive success at the expense of somatic maintenance. The higher metabolic and growth rates, a higher premature mortality and a longer period of sexual competence of males also find explanation as a complex of r-selected traits.