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Analysis of Lifetime Mortality Trajectories in Wildlife Disease Research: BaSTA and Beyond
Open AccessArticle

Age-Independent Adult Mortality in a Long-Lived Herb

1
Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
2
Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
3
Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(10), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11100187
Received: 28 July 2019 / Revised: 25 September 2019 / Accepted: 27 September 2019 / Published: 1 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bayesian Survival Trajectory Analysis in Wildlife)
Relative to mammals and birds, little is known about the mortality trajectories of perennial plants, as there are few long-term demographic studies following multiple yearly cohorts from birth to death. This is particularly important because if reproductively mature individuals show actuarial senescence, current estimations of life spans assuming constant survival would be incorrect. There is also a lack of studies documenting how life history trade-offs and disturbance influence the mortality trajectories of plants. We conducted Bayesian survival trajectory analyses (BaSTA) of a 33-year individual-based dataset of Pulsatilla vulgaris ssp. gotlandica. Mortality trajectories corresponded to “Type III” survivorship patterns, with rapidly decreasing annual mortality rates for young plants, but with constant mortality for reproductively mature individuals. We found trade-off effects resulting in a cost of growth for non-reproductive plants but no apparent cost of reproduction. Contrarily to our expectation, young plants that had previously shrunk in size had a lower mortality. However, accounting for trade-offs and disturbance only had minor effects on the mortality trajectories. We conclude that BaSTA is a useful tool for assessing mortality patterns in plants if only partial age information is available. Furthermore, if constant mortality is a general pattern in polycarpic plants, long-term studies may not be necessary to assess their age-dependent demography. View Full-Text
Keywords: actuarial senescence; aging; plant demography; growth; reproduction; survival; mortality; life history trade-offs; vital rates; whole-plant senescence actuarial senescence; aging; plant demography; growth; reproduction; survival; mortality; life history trade-offs; vital rates; whole-plant senescence
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Edelfeldt, S.; Lindell, T.; Dahlgren, J.P. Age-Independent Adult Mortality in a Long-Lived Herb. Diversity 2019, 11, 187.

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