Scientists develop resource to study animal aging

Feb 17, 2009

A database detailing the life history of more than 4,000 animal species has been developed by scientists at the University of Liverpool for study in areas such as ageing, evolution and conservation.

The online resource, which is the most extensive and complete record of animal longevity, details the maximum and average lifespan of an animal, its weight, age of sexual maturity, litter size and other life history traits. It can be used to examine why different species age at different rates in order to further understanding of the mechanisms of ageing. The database will also be a reference for scientists investigating whether populations of particular animals could survive after their numbers have been depleted by human activities.

The resource, which can be accessed by both members of the public and researchers, will help experts study how the lifespan of a species can be influenced by the way in which it adapts to its environment. It features some of the world's most unusual creatures, such as the naked mole-rat - a small burrowing rodent, native to parts of East Africa, that has been subject to many biological studies due to its ability to survive for as long as 30 years in harsh environmental conditions.

Dr Joao Pedro Magalhaes, from the University's School of Biological Sciences, explains: "The naked mole-rat is a good example of how complex the mechanisms of ageing are. The assumption is that the bigger an animal is, the longer it lives, yet the mole-rat is about the size of a mouse and can live for almost three decades.

"Our resource can help supply a rounded picture of an animal's life so that we can consider all aspects of how an animal survives, from its environment to its litter size, when investigating the ageing process and how it is shaped by evolution.

"A good example of how our resource can help us maintain animal populations is the issue of over-fishing, whereby fish stocks are being depleted beyond recovery. Researchers will be able to use the resource to identify the age at which an animal matures and their expected lifespan to determine which populations are not producing enough newborns to replace those that have died."

More information: Details of the resource, called AnAge, are published in Aging Cell. The database can be found at: genomics.senescence.info/species/index.html

Source: University of Liverpool

Explore further: Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vanishing big trees put Australia's urban wildlife in peril

Jan 13, 2015

Across Australia - and the world - the future of large old trees is bleak and yet large trees support many species such as birds and small mammals, says Mr Darren Le Roux, a PhD student at the ARC Centre of Excellence for ...

Robot cameras monitor deep sea ecosystems

Jan 12, 2015

Scientists at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) have used advanced photographic tools in an unmanned Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to make major advancements in estimating deep-sea ecosystem diversity ...

Rising anger as Nicaragua canal to break ground

Dec 21, 2014

As a conscripted soldier during the Contra War of the 1980s, Esteban Ruiz used to flee from battles because he didn't want to have to kill anyone. But now, as the 47-year-old farmer prepares to fight for ...

Recommended for you

Researchers image and measure tubulin transport in cilia

23 minutes ago

Defective cilia can lead to a host of diseases and conditions in the human body—from rare, inherited bone malformations to blindness, male infertility, kidney disease and obesity. Scientists knew that somehow ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.