The deep sea is home to many species that have longer life spans than their shallow-water counterparts. This trend is primarily related to the decline in metabolic rates with temperature as depth increases. However, at bathyal depths, the cold-seep vestimentiferan tubeworm species Lamellibrachia luymesi and Seepiophila jonesi reach extremely old ages beyond what is predicted by the simple scaling of life span with body size and temperature. Here, we use individual-based models based on in situ growth rates to show that another species of cold-seep tubeworm found in the Gulf of Mexico, Escarpia laminata, also has an extraordinarily long life span, regularly achieving ages of 100-200 years with some individuals older than 300 years. The distribution of results from individual simulations as well as whole population simulations involving mortality and recruitment rates support these age estimates. The low 0.67% mortality rate measurements from collected populations of E. laminata are similar to mortality rates in L. luymesi and S. jonesi and play a role in evolution of the long life span of cold-seep tubeworms. These results support longevity theory, which states that in the absence of extrinsic mortality threats, natural selection will select for individuals that senesce slower and reproduce continually into their old age.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics