By Robert Arking
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Additional info for Biology of Aging: Observations and Principles
Death does not require aging. All the organisms in a population may have died of accidental causes before any of them had the chance to display senescent changes. Clearly, then, aging and death are not the same thing. All populations die, but not all of them die of age-related causes. We must have a method of reliably distinguishing aging from nonaging populations, if for no other reason than to keep us from wasting our time examining populations that cannot help us to understand the biological bases of aging.
Good quality” is a nebulous term that may mean different things to different investigators. Certainly, investigators should comply with all applicable regulations, not merely because of legal implications but because any investigator worth his or her salt would want to use healthy animals so as not to confound aging with disease. The details of animal husbandry will depend on whether the animals must be germ-free, free of a specified pathogen, and so on. Once these criteria are decided, the next decision involves numbers.
7 illustrates. Should this observation be interpreted as meaning that these organisms are not subject to senescence? Obviously the answer is no, for most animals raised in captivity typically have an average expectation of life that far exceeds that observed in wild populations. The explanation for this apparent paradox is that in wild populations, the death rate from predation and other random events is so great that senescence has no chance to appear. Almost all members of the cohort are dead before vigor has declined significantly.