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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2005 Nov-Dec;78(6):869-78. Epub 2005 Oct 13.

Late life: a new frontier for physiology.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697-2525, USA.


Late life is a distinct phase of life that occurs after the aging period and is now known to be general among aging organisms. While aging is characterized by a deterioration in survivorship and fertility, late life is characterized by the cessation of such age-related deterioration. Thus, late life presents a new and interesting area of research not only for evolutionary biology but also for physiology. In this article, we present the theoretical and experimental background to late life, as developed by evolutionary biologists and demographers. We discuss the discovery of late life and the two main theories developed to explain this phase of life: lifelong demographic heterogeneity theory and evolutionary theory based on the force of natural selection. Finally, we suggest topics for future physiological research on late life.

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