Organisational unit profile

One of the most profound challenges we all face is that we deteriorate with age – a process known as senescence. Individuals clearly senesce differently, but our understanding of how and why individuals senesce in such different ways remains limited. For example, we do not yet know what factors cause the high levels of variation in senescence observed among individuals. We do not fully comprehend what drives the evolution of senescence – what trade-offs underlie senescence, and what are the patterns of selection on senescence? This is important as senescence impacts not only on the health and fitness of individuals but also on that of their offspring, with wide-spread consequences for mate-choice, life- histories, selection, demography and medicine. 

Our group takes a comprehensive and integrative approach to investigate why individual variation in senescence evolved and is maintained, a variety of long-term mammalian, including human, and bird datasets. We are assessing how key variables, including environmental, social, (non-genetic) intergenerational, and genetic effects impact individual senescence. This will provide critical insight into the interacting roles of these key components in determining the processes and trade-offs that underpin patterns of senescence. Importantly, we are also investigating selection on senescence using genomic markers. This knowledge is vital to understand the evolution of senescence. This research will identify factors that impact negatively on senescence so that individuals can potentially live in good health for longer.


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