Oecologia

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 325–328

Telomere length provides a new technique for aging animals

Authors

  • Mark F. Haussmann
    • Department of Zoology and Genetics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA
  • Carol M. Vleck
    • Department of Zoology and Genetics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-001-0827-y

Cite this article as:
Haussmann, M.F. & Vleck, C.M. Oecologia (2002) 130: 325. doi:10.1007/s00442-001-0827-y

Abstract.

Field biologists often work with animals for which there is no prior history. A marker of an animal's age would offer insight into how age and experience affect reproductive success and other life history parameters. Telomere length shortens with age in cultured cells and mouse and human tissues. We found that lengths of telomere restriction fragments cleaved from blood cell DNA shorten predictably with age in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). If this relationship holds in other species, it should be possible, once the relationship between telomere length and age has been determined for a given species, to use blood samples to estimate ages of free-living animals. This will allow the incorporation of age into estimates of factors affecting life history parameters in cases where previous histories of animals are unknown.

Aging Blood DNA Taeniopygia guttata Telomere

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001