Sex differences in health and survival during aging are major topics of interest in medicine, epidemiology, demography and evolutionary biology. Despite this pervasive interest, and despite a wealth of data on aging in humans and a few well-studied model organisms, patterns of aging in wild animals remain largely undescribed. Studies of aging in wild animal populations, especially in our primate relatives, offer great potential benefits for our understanding of aging in humans. They can provide a comparative perspective on human aging, generate new questions, produce insights into the answers to old ones, and identify opportunities for alleviating the adverse consequences of aging. An overarching goal of this proposal is to fill significant gaps in our knowledge of aging in the wild in order to realize some of these potential benefits. Specifically, we propose to examine age-related changes in health and survival, and sex differences in these age-related changes, in a natural nonhuman primate population. Our motivating question is the health-survival paradox, the phenomenon observed in modern human societies in which women experience greater longevity and yet higher rates of disability than men. It is not known whether the health-survival paradox pertains in wild animal populations. Here we hypothesize that it does pertain, and that many of the same factors that affect survival and health in humans have parallels in wild primates, in spite of important social and physical differences between species. In pursuing the research, we will take advantage of and build upon an existing long-term database of almost unprecedented breadth and depth on the baboon population of the Amboseli basin in Kenya. This population of individually known animals has been under continuous observation for 35 years, and extensive life history and behavioral data have been collected on individually identified animals throughout their natural life spans. By examining individual patterns of survival and health in this population, we propose to provide the first detailed description of sex differences in senescence in a wild primate population. Our analyses will focus not only on the decline in survival with age, but also on changes in health and function with age.

Public Health Relevance

In pursuing our research aims we will identify sex differences in behaviors that create risks, sex differences in the effects of risk factors, and sex differences in the stability and congruence of measures of function. Taken together, our analyses will enable us to identify the nature and causes of the health-survival paradox in wild primates, and by extension in humans.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Type
Research Program Projects (P01)
Project #
5P01AG031719-04
Application #
8379393
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1-ZIJ-7)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2012-09-01
Budget End
2013-08-31
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$101,576
Indirect Cost
$17,642
Name
Duke University
Department
Type
DUNS #
044387793
City
Durham
State
NC
Country
United States
Zip Code
27705
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Lea, Amanda J; Altmann, Jeanne; Alberts, Susan C et al. (2016) Resource base influences genome-wide DNA methylation levels in wild baboons (Papio cynocephalus). Mol Ecol 25:1681-96
Colchero, Fernando; Rau, Roland; Jones, Owen R et al. (2016) The emergence of longevous populations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:E7681-E7690
Ahrenfeldt, Linda J; Lindahl-Jacobsen, Rune; Möller, Sören et al. (2016) Differences in Religiousness in Opposite-Sex and Same-Sex Twins in a Secular Society. Twin Res Hum Genet 19:35-46
Ahrenfeldt, Linda; Petersen, Inge; Johnson, Wendy et al. (2015) Academic performance of opposite-sex and same-sex twins in adolescence: A Danish national cohort study. Horm Behav 69:123-31
Fitzpatrick, Courtney L; Altmann, Jeanne; Alberts, Susan C (2015) Exaggerated sexual swellings and male mate choice in primates: testing the reliable indicator hypothesis in the Amboseli baboons. Anim Behav 104:175-185
Lea, Amanda J; Altmann, Jeanne; Alberts, Susan C et al. (2015) Developmental constraints in a wild primate. Am Nat 185:809-21
Galbany, Jordi; Tung, Jenny; Altmann, Jeanne et al. (2015) Canine length in wild male baboons: maturation, aging and social dominance rank. PLoS One 10:e0126415
Ahrenfeldt, Linda J; Skytthe, Axel; Möller, Sören et al. (2015) Risk of Sex-Specific Cancers in Opposite-Sex and Same-Sex Twins in Denmark and Sweden. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 24:1622-8
Franz, Mathias; McLean, Emily; Tung, Jenny et al. (2015) Self-organizing dominance hierarchies in a wild primate population. Proc Biol Sci 282:

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