Skip to main content

Sex differences in killifish

Cite this dataset

Reichard, Martin (2021). Sex differences in killifish [Dataset]. Dryad.


Males often experience shorter lifespans than females. Despite extensive research, it is poorly understood how lifespan differences between the sexes are modulated by an interplay among genetic, environmental and social factors. Using four African annual killifish species, we combined comparative data from sex ratios in natural populations with experimental results on sex differences in lifespan and aging in replicated captive populations. In the wild, females consistently outlived males. In socially-housed experimental groups, this sex-specific survival difference persisted in two aggressive species, but ceased in two placid species. When social and physical contacts were prevented by housing all fish individually, male-biased mortality ceased in all species. Fitting demographic survival models revealed that increased baseline mortality, and partly a lack of mortality deceleration in old age, were responsible for a shorter male lifespan. The timing and rate of aging were not different between the sexes. No marker of functional aging we recorded (lipofuscin accumulation, proliferative changes in kidney and liver) differed between males and females, despite their previously confirmed association with functional aging in Nothobranchius killifish. Overall, we demonstrate that sex differences in lifespan and aging in killifish are driven by social and environmental conditions, and may be ameliorated by their modification.


Data were collected in the field and in th lab over 5+ years and across several experiments, described in the Methods. They were entered to excel files, checked for typos and converted to txt files.

Usage notes

Each files contains information on species id, population ID (if appropriate), sex (M/F), individual ID (If appropriate), treatment (if appropriate in additoon to sex difference). Additoonal information contian "year" - year of sampling, weeks (age in weeks), age (young/old), 

Survival data contain "death" - day of detah (lifespan) and censor (censored in case of removal other than death, e.g. for histology).

8 files for Basta analysis containes one raw per individual and 1/0 (alive/death) for each week of the observation - a total of 8 files, one for each popualtion (e.g. furDrySex.txt).


Czech Science Foundation, Award: 19-01781S