Male reproductive strategy and decreased longevity

Acta Biotheor. 1998 Jun;46(2):157-60. doi: 10.1023/a:1001181921303.


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 productive 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.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Species Specificity