Mark Pitt


Phone: 07519376302


Research title: Parental age effects on offspring quality

Research Summary

I am interested in the processes underlying how and why individuals age, and how environmental factors, and environmental change, influence the rates of ageing across different species.

My current PhD research is focused in studying the effects of parental age on offspring longevity and fitness, using Field crickets (Gryllus spp.) as a study species. 

Most studies to date have focussed on the time-dependent somatic deterioration of an individual across their lifespan. But there is now increasing evidence that the effects parental age can interact across generations to influence their descendents lifespan and senescence, with these effects being expressed on top of genetic inheritance. Thus, the parents age at the time of breeding may have dramatic downstream consequences that generate substantial variation in how their offspring age. Although it is becoming increasingly apparent that offspring quality declines with parental age (especially in invertebrate populations), the ecological and evolutionary implications of these effects remain poorly understood.

My project aims to determine how increasing parental age affects the embryonic development, hatching success, growth rates, adult body size, development time, longevity, and mortality rates of their offspring. By using a within-animal longitudinal study design, I will compare siblings produced from different time points across their parents lifespan to assess how they are affected by increasing parental age. 


Pitt, M.D., Capilla-Lasheras, P., Alhowiti, N.S., Branston, C.J., Carlon, E., Boonekamp, J.J. and Dominoni, D.M., 2023. Environmental constraints can explain clutch size differences between urban and forest blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus): insights from an egg removal experiment. bioRxiv, pp.2023-01.