Ontogenetic timing as a condition-dependent life history trait: High-condition males develop quickly, peak early, and age fast.

Ontogenetic timing of high- and low-condition males. High-condition males experience accelerated ontogeny but age faster and die sooner compared to low-condition males.


Within‐population variation in ageing remains poorly understood. In males, condition‐dependent investment in secondary sexual traits may incur costs that limit ability to invest in somatic maintenance. Moreover, males often express morphological and behavioral secondary sexual traits simultaneously, but the relative effects on ageing of investment in these traits remain unclear. We investigated the condition dependence of male life history in the neriid fly Telostylinus angusticollis . Using a fully factorial design, we manipulated male early‐life condition by varying nutrient content of the larval diet and, subsequently, manipulated opportunity for adult males to interact with rival males. We found that high‐condition males developed more quickly and reached their reproductive peak earlier in life, but also experienced faster reproductive ageing and died sooner than low‐condition males. By contrast, interactions with rival males reduced male lifespan but did not affect male reproductive ageing. High‐condition in early life is therefore associated with rapid ageing in T. angusticollis males, even in the absence of damaging male–male interactions. Our results show that abundant resources during the juvenile phase are used to expedite growth and development and enhance early‐life reproductive performance at the expense of late‐life performance and survival, demonstrating a clear link between male condition and ageing.