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Sexual activity reduces lifespan of male fruitflies


Many theories on the evolution of life histories have assumed a physiological cost of reproduction in terms of reduced lifespan1–3. A cost of increased reproduction in terms of reduced longevity has been established experimentally for females, both as an additive genetic4,5 and as a purely phenotypic6,7 effect. Such a physiological cost of reproduction has not been demonstrated for males. The cost of sexual activity has been assumed to be relatively small in those species where the only paternal contribution to an offspring is the gamete8,9. Here we show that increasing sexual activity reduces longevity in the male fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster) and hence that there is a significant physiological cost of male sexual activity in a species where the father contributes only gametes to his progeny.

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Partridge, L., Farquhar, M. Sexual activity reduces lifespan of male fruitflies. Nature 294, 580–582 (1981).

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