Longevity and life history coevolve with oxidative stress in birds

Csongor I. Vágási, Orsolya Vincze, Laura Pătraș, Gergely Osváth, Janka Pénzes, Mark F. Haussmann, Zoltán Barta, Péter L. Pap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanisms that underpin the evolution of ageing and life histories remain elusive. Oxidative stress, which results in accumulated cellular damages, is one of the mechanisms suggested to play a role. In this paper, we set out to test the “oxidative stress theory of ageing” and the “oxidative stress hypothesis of life histories” using a comprehensive phylogenetic comparison based on an unprecedented dataset of oxidative physiology in 88 free-living bird species. We show for the first time that bird species with longer lifespan have higher non-enzymatic antioxidant capacity and suffer less oxidative damage to their lipids. We also found that bird species featuring a faster pace-of-life either have lower non-enzymatic antioxidant capacity or are exposed to higher levels of oxidative damage, while adult annual mortality does not relate to oxidative state. These results reinforce the role of oxidative stress in the evolution of lifespan and also corroborate the role of oxidative state in the evolution of life histories among free-living birds. A plain language summary is available for this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019



  • ageing
  • antioxidants
  • comparative biology
  • life history
  • lifespan
  • lipid peroxidation
  • mortality
  • oxidative damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Vágási, C. I., Vincze, O., Pătraș, L., Osváth, G., Pénzes, J., Haussmann, M. F., Barta, Z., & Pap, P. L. (2019). Longevity and life history coevolve with oxidative stress in birds. Functional Ecology, 33(1), 152-161. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13228