Most life cycles we knew of consist of a juvenile stage (e.g. larval for insects, sporozoite for some intracellular parasites), a reproductive stage and an adult stage. Usually the reproductive stage occur when the organism reached the adult stage.

But are their examples of organisms where its natural life cycle involve reproduction at an early stage, and then the parent then went through more distinctive stages after the reproductive stage and then dies off? For example:

hand-drawn illustration of what OP means

The closest thing I can think of is the life cycle of mayflies, which dies a short period after the mating stage. But mayflies has only one adult stage thus it is does not really answer the question

  • $\begingroup$ I would guess not, since reproduction is really life's endgame $\endgroup$ – Luigi Jun 21 '15 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ Yeast cells go around the cell cycle in both haploid and duploid states. $\endgroup$ – 243 Jun 21 '15 at 16:13

There are two important points here:

  1. The adult phase is defined as the phase during which reproduction occurs. It is therefore impossible for reproduction not to occur during the adult phase as you would immediately call this phase the adult phase. Because of this purely semantic issue (nothing to do with biology) the answer to your question is necessarily "no".

  2. Only kin selection/group selection/lineage selection makes life after the reproductive age possible. It is therefore a pretty rare phenomenon. If this is unclear, you may want to read things about the evolution of ageing such as this post for example.

Maybe a question that would be of higher interest would be something along the lines of: "Can you list species that have non/reproductive phases in between a reproductive phase and death?" or "Are there any species that undergo different reproductive phases during their lives such as being first a sneaker and then territorial (yes) or such reproducing asexually at first and then sexually (probably but can't think of any examples)?".


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