Document Detail

Food and fitness: associations between crop yields and life-history traits in a longitudinally monitored pre-industrial human population.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22896645     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Severe food shortage is associated with increased mortality and reduced reproductive success in contemporary and historical human populations. Studies of wild animal populations have shown that subtle variation in environmental conditions can influence patterns of mortality, fecundity and natural selection, but the fitness implications of such subtle variation on human populations are unclear. Here, we use longitudinal data on local grain production, births, marriages and mortality so as to assess the impact of crop yield variation on individual age-specific mortality and fecundity in two pre-industrial Finnish populations. Although crop yields and fitness traits showed profound year-to-year variation across the 70-year study period, associations between crop yields and mortality or fecundity were generally weak. However, post-reproductive individuals of both sexes, and individuals of lower socio-economic status experienced higher mortality when crop yields were low. This is the first longitudinal, individual-based study of the associations between environmental variation and fitness traits in pre-industrial humans, which emphasizes the importance of a portfolio of mechanisms for coping with low food availability in such populations. The results are consistent with evolutionary ecological predictions that natural selection for resilience to food shortage is likely to weaken with age and be most severe on those with the fewest resources.
Adam D Hayward; Jari Holopainen; Jenni E Pettay; Virpi Lummaa
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Historical Article; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2012-08-15
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  279     ISSN:  1471-2954     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2012 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-09-11     Completed Date:  2013-03-18     Revised Date:  2013-11-05    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  4165-73     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Alfred Denny Building, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Age Factors
Crops, Agricultural*
History, 18th Century
History, 19th Century
Longitudinal Studies
Models, Theoretical*
Mortality / history*
Socioeconomic Factors / history
Starvation / history*

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