Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Want to live a long and healthy life? Experts in human longevity often stress the importance of staying active.
But new research suggests more sedentary animals -- species that stay put, avoiding long distance travel -- enjoy comparatively longer lifespans.
The findings, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, suggest animal species that migrate tend to "live fast and die young."
For the study, scientists at the University of Exeter analyzed the development patterns and lifespans of some 1,300 mammal and bird species. They found species that migrate develop faster, reproduce earlier and generally live shorter lives than their more stationary peers.
Their analysis may explain why many migratory species are on the decline.
"Many species migrate over long distances and this requires substantial amounts of energy," lead study author Andrea Soriano-Redondo said in a news release.
"This energy cannot be used for other purposes such as self-maintenance or reproduction, so we would expect animals to adjust the amount of energy they use for these things," said Soriano-Redondo, a conservation biologist and research fellow at Exeter.
Instead of investing their energy in survival, migrating species focus on reproducing earlier and faster. The ability to generate offspring more rapidly may help migrating species offset the risks posed by their fast-paced lifestyle.
Researchers gauged the "pace-of-life" of hundreds of bird and mammal species by considering their longevity, age of female sexual maturity and the number of times a species can reproduce each year.
Several studies have highlighted the dangers climate change poses to migrating species. The latest research suggests changes in temperature and seasonal patterns can amplify the risks of what was already a perilous lifestyle.
"We have long thought that migration is a risky behavior," said study co-author Stuart Bearhop.
"Animals often take a chance when they migrate, hoping to find the right conditions in their destination. In the case of birds that migrate to the High Arctic, they arrive in spring and have a short window in which to breed," said Bearhop, professor of biology at Exeter's Center for Ecology and Conservation.