The American Naturalist
University of Chicago Press
Growth and development rates may result from genetic programming of intrinsic processes that yield correlated rates between life stages. These intrinsic rates are thought to affect adult mortality probability and longevity. However, if proximate extrinsic factors (e.g., temperature, food) influence development rates differently between stages and yield low covariance between stages, then development rates may not explain adult morality probability. We examined these issues based on study of 90 songbird species on four continents to capture the diverse life-history strategies observed across geographic space. The length of the embryonic period explained little variation (ca. 13%) in nestling periods and growth rates among species. This low covariance suggests that the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic influences on growth and development rates differs between stages. Consequently, nestling period durations and nestling growth rates were not related to annual adult mortality probability among diverse songbird species within or among sites. The absence of a clear effect of fester growth on adult mortality when examined in an evolutionary framework across species may indicate that species that evolve faster growth also evolve physiological mechanisms for ameliorating costs on adult morality. Instead, adult mortality rates of species in the wild may be determined more strongly by extrinsic environmental causes.
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