Behaviour 2019
Intergenerational Fitness Effects of Early Life Adversity in Baboons
Matthew N. Zipple1, Elizabeth A. Archie2,3, Jenny Tung1,3, Jeanne Altmann3,4, Susan C. Alberts1,3. 1Duke University, Durham, NC, United States; 2University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, United States; 3National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, , Kenya; 4Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States

In a wide variety of species, early life adversity can have long term fitness consequences, but it is generally unknown whether the effects of early life adversity can be transmitted from one generation to the next. Leveraging a long-term dataset from a population of wild, long-lived primates, we demonstrate that the early life adversity experienced by a female baboon negatively affects her offspring’s juvenile survival, independent of the environmental conditions faced by her offspring. Specifically, offspring whose mothers experienced early maternal loss or a close-in-age sibling during the mother’s early life are less likely to survive their juvenile period. Further, we link the decreased offspring survival to maternal viability, consistent with the hypothesis that early life adversity leads to lifelong reductions in female quality, which are then manifested in offspring fitness outcomes via maternal effects. Our results help to fill a key gap in the early life effects literature and may have important implications both for understanding the impact of early life effects on animal evolution and for understanding the persistence of human health deficits across generations.