Does tooth wear influence ageing? A comparative study across large herbivores

We test whether the intensity of tooth wear influences the strength of actuarial senescence across species of large herbivores. We collected from the literature data on tooth wear in the wild (measured as the slope of the regression of log-transformed M1 crown height on age), longevity (measured as the age at which 90% of individuals are dead) and two metrics of actuarial senescence in captive populations (rate of senescence between 6 and 12 years of age and Gompertz rate of senescence). Between-species differences and variation in tooth height accounted for most of the observed variation in tooth wear among large herbivores: tooth height and tooth wear were positively correlated. In contrast, tooth wear was little influenced by sex, body mass, or taxonomy. No marked between-sex differences in longevity occurred. Males senesced faster than females when tooth wear was low (for both senescence metrics), while between-sex differences in actuarial senescence when tooth wear was high depended on the metric used to measure actuarial senescence. While longevity was mostly independent of the intensity of tooth wear, we found general support for a positive relationship between both measures of actuarial senescence and tooth wear. These patterns were consistent whether hypsodonty was controlled for or not. Although varying according to sex and to the metric used for assessing actuarial senescence, our findings suggest overall that tooth wear could be positively associated with actuarial senescence among large herbivores. Further longitudinal studies focusing on changes within individuals will be required to test whether a mechanistic link between tooth wear and actuarial senescence occurs in large herbivores.

Publish DateJuly 28, 2020
Last UpdatedJanuary 26, 2021
Size256.69 KB