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Genetica. 1993;91(1-3):99-109.

Population density effects on longevity.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine 92717.


Population density, or the number of adults in an environment relative to the limiting resources, may have important long and short term consequences for the longevity of organisms. In this paper we summarize the way in which crowding may have an immediate impact on longevity, either through the phenomenon known as dietary restriction or through alterations in the quality of the environment brought on by the presence of large numbers of individuals. We also consider the possible long term consequences of population density on longevity by the process of natural selection. There has been much theoretical speculation about the possible impact of population density on the evolution of longevity but little experimental evidence has been gathered to test these ideas. We discuss some of the theory and empirical evidence that exists and show that population density is an important factor in determining both the immediate chances of survival and the course of natural selection.

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