The Biology and Demography of Life Span
James R. Carey
Despite our deep interest in mortality, little is known about why some individuals live to middle age and others to extreme old age. Life span, mortality, and aging present some of the most profound mysteries in biology. In Longevity, James Carey draws on unprecedented data to develop a biological and demographic framework for identifying the key factors that govern aging, life span, and mortality in humans and other animals.
Carey presents the results of a monumental, twelve-year, National Institute on Aging-funded research project on the determinants of longevity using data from the life tables of five million Mediterranean fruit flies, the most comprehensive set of life table studies ever on the mortality dynamics of a single species. He interprets the fruit fly data within the context of human aging and the aging process in general to identify the determinants of mortality. Three key themes emerge: the absence of species-specific life span limits, the context-specific nature of the mortality rate, and biodemographic linkages between longevity and reproduction.
A powerful foundation for the emerging field of biodemography and a rich framework for considering the future of human life span, Longevity will be an indispensable resource for readers from a range of fields including population biology, demography, gerontology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and medical research.
James R. Carey is Professor and former Vice Chair of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, and Senior Scholar of the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California, Berkeley. Principal investigator for the research project this book is based upon, he is the author of Applied Demography for Biologists and the lead author of Longevity Records: Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles and Fish.