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Data from: Species with a chemical defense, but not chemical offense, live longer

Cite this dataset

Hossie, Thomas J.; Hassall, Christopher; Knee, Wayne; Sherratt, Thomas N. (2013). Data from: Species with a chemical defense, but not chemical offense, live longer [Dataset]. Dryad.


Evolutionary hypotheses for aging generally predict that delayed senescence should evolve in organisms that experience lower extrinsic mortality. Thus, one might expect species that are highly toxic or venomous (i.e., chemically protected) will have longer lifespans than related species that are not likewise protected. This remarkable relationship has been suggested to occur in amphibians and snakes. First, we show that chemical protection is highly conserved in several lineages of amphibians and snakes. Therefore, accounting for phylogenetic autocorrelation is critical when conservatively testing evolutionary hypotheses because species may possess similar longevities and defensive attributes simply through shared ancestry. Herein we compare maximum longevity of chemically protected and non-protected species, controlling for potential non-independence of traits among species using recently available phylogenies. Our analyses confirm that longevity is positively correlated with body size in both groups which is consistent with life-history theory. We also show that maximum lifespan was positively associated with chemical protection in amphibian species but not in snakes. Chemical protection is defensive in amphibians, but primarily offensive (involved in prey capture) in snakes. Thus, we find that while chemical defense in amphibians favours long life, there is no evidence that chemical offense in snakes does the same.

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