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1 July 2008 “The Calamity of So Long Life”: Life Histories, Contaminants, and Potential Emerging Threats to Long-lived Vertebrates
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Abstract
Persistent contaminants are ubiquitous in the environment, often present at concentrations that may jeopardize reproductive fitness only after long periods of exposure. As the duration of exposure is largely regulated by life span, long-lived species of high trophic status, such as many reptiles, birds, and mammals, may be at risk of reduced fitness and population decline. Delayed maturation and iteroparity confer the potential for cumulative effects to be expressed prior to reproduction, and large parental investments in yolk and milk may threaten offspring because of exposure during critical developmental periods. Long generation times may delay emergence of obvious effects on populations, perhaps eluding early intervention, while constraining rates at which populations may recover if conditions subsequently improve. Life history theory thus suggests that the suite of traits that optimized reproductive fitness throughout long-lived species' evolutionary histories may ultimately put them in peril in the modern, anthropogenically altered environment.
and Christopher L. Rowe "“The Calamity of So Long Life”: Life Histories, Contaminants, and Potential Emerging Threats to Long-lived Vertebrates," BioScience 58(7), (1 July 2008). https://doi.org/10.1641/B580709
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