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: Gene removal could have implications beyond plant science

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tracking sperm whales' ecology through stomach contents

Apr 04, 2014

In the largest regional study of its type to date, marine ecologist Michelle Staudinger and colleagues offer better understanding of the feeding ecologies of two very rare sperm whale species in waters off ...

Counting calories in the fossil record

Mar 26, 2014

Starting about 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, brachiopod groups disappeared in large numbers, along with 90 percent of the planet's species. Today, only a few groups, or genera, ...

Recommended for you

Gene removal could have implications beyond plant science

just added

(Phys.org) —For thousands of years humans have been tinkering with plant genetics, even when they didn't realize that is what they were doing, in an effort to make stronger, healthier crops that endured climates better, ...

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

12 hours ago

Humans aren't alone in their ability to match a voice to a face—animals such as dogs, horses, crows and monkeys are able to recognize familiar individuals this way too, a growing body of research shows.

Chrono, the last piece of the circadian clock puzzle?

14 hours ago

All organisms, from mammals to fungi, have daily cycles controlled by a tightly regulated internal clock, called the circadian clock. The whole-body circadian clock, influenced by the exposure to light, dictates the wake-sleep ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...