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Trade-offs between survival and reproduction are at the core of life-history theory, and essential to understanding the evolution of reproductive tactics as well as population dynamics and stability. Factors influencing these trade-offs are multiple and often addressed in isolation. Further problems arise as reproductive states and survival in wild populations are estimated based on imperfect and potentially biased observation processes, which might lead to flawed conclusions. In this study, we aimed at elucidating trade-offs between current reproduction (both pregnancy and lactation), survival and future reproduction, including the specific costs of first reproduction, in long-lived, income breeding small mammals, an under-studied group. We developed a novel statistical framework that encapsulates the breeding life cycle of females, and accounts for incomplete information on female pregnancy and lactation and imperfect and biased recapture rates. We applied this framework to longitudinal data on two sympatric, closely related bat species (Myotis daubentonii and M. nattereri). We revealed the existence of several, to our knowledge previously unknown, trends in survival and breeding of these closely related, sympatric species and detected remarkable differences in their age and costs of first reproduction, as well as their survival-reproduction trade-offs. Our results indicate that species with this type of life history exhibit a mixture of patterns expected for long-lived and short-lived animals, and between income and capital breeders. Thus, we call for more studies to be conducted in similar study systems, increasing our ability to fully understand the evolutionary origin and fitness effects of trade-offs and senescence.

Original publication




Journal article


J Anim Ecol

Publication Date





746 - 756


Myotis daubentonii , Myotis nattereri , Daubenton's bat, Natterer's bat, bats, multi-event model, survival-reproduction trade-offs