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Aging in Social Insects

What Is Aging?

Aging or senescence generally refers to an age-dependent decline in physiological function, leading to an increase in age-specific mortality or a decline in fertility. Since it is usually complicated to identify the health state of an individual, aging is often defined demographically as increasing age-specific mortality, estimated from entire cohorts or populations. Although details of this ubiquitous phenomenon are mostly studied in well-established laboratory model organisms, such as Drosophila and house mice, social insects have recently emerged as model organisms to study the evolution of aging.

Why Is Aging Special in Social Insects?

Perennial social insects are of interest for aging research because of three specific traits. First, the adult lifespans of the reproductives of many perennial social insects surpass by far those of most solitary insects. The queens of honey bees can live for several years, and the queens of several ants and termites (and in termites...

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Aging in Social Insects, Fig. 1

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Correspondence to Jürgen Heinze .

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Heinze, J., Korb, J., Kramer, B. (2021). Aging in Social Insects. In: Starr, C.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Social Insects. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-28102-1_3

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