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New Haven, CT, United States

Kamilar J.M.,Yale Molecular Anthropology Laboratory | Bribiescas R.G.,Yale University | Bradley B.J.,Yale Molecular Anthropology Laboratory
Biology Letters

Life-history theory predicts that reduced extrinsic risk of mortality should increase species longevity over evolutionary time. Increasing group size should reduce an individual's risk of predation, and consequently reduce its extrinsic risk of mortality. Therefore, we should expect a relationship between group size and maximum longevity across species, while controlling for well-known correlates of longevity. We tested this hypothesis using a dataset of 253 mammal species and phylogenetic comparative methods. We found that group size was a poor predictor of maximum longevity across all mammals, as well as within primates and rodents. We found a weak but significant group-size effect on artiodactyl longevity, but in a negative direction. Body mass was consistently the best predictor of maximum longevity, which may be owing to lower predation risk and/or lower basal metabolic rates for large species. Artiodactyls living in large groups may exhibit higher rates of extrinsic mortality because of being more conspicuous to predators in open habitats, resulting in shorter lifespans. © 2010 The Royal Society. Source

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