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High Investment in Reproduction Is Associated with Reduced Life Span in Dogs

Prominent differences in aging among and within species present an evolutionary puzzle. The theories proposed to explain evolutionary differences in aging are based on the axiom that selection maximizes fitness, not necessarily life span. This implies trade-offs between investment in self-maintenance and investment in reproduction, where high investments in growth and current reproduction are associated with short life spans. Fast growth and large adult size are related to shorter life spans in the domestic dog, a bourgeoning model in aging research; however, whether reproduction influences life span in this system remains unknown. Here we test the relationship between reproduction and differences in life span among dog breeds, simultaneously controlling for shared ancestry and recent gene flow. We found that shared ancestry explains a higher proportion of the among-breed variation in life history traits, in comparison with recent gene flow. Our results also show that reproductive investment negatively impacts life span, and more strongly so in large breeds, an effect that is not merely a correlated response of adult size. These results suggest that basic life history trade-offs are apparent in a domestic animal whose diversity is the result of artificial selection and that among-breed differences in life span are due to a combination of size and reproduction.