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Telomeres as age markers in vertebrate molecular ecology


Dunshea, GJ and Duffield, D and Gales, N and Hindell, MA and Wells, RS and Jarman, SN, Telomeres as age markers in vertebrate molecular ecology, Molecular Ecology Resources, 11, (2) pp. 225-235. ISSN 1755-098X (2011) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1755-0998.2010.02976.x


Chronological age is a fundamental and yet elusive variable in studies of many wild animals. Telomeres are nucleoprotein structures on the ends of chromosomes that change size throughout the life of many animals and because of this property have been advocated as a means to estimate age. In this review, we assess the existing and potential application of using telomeres for age estimation. We argue that there are conceptual and statistical inconsistencies in previous studies and that the basis for telomere change over time is not well understood and affected by several intrinsic and extrinsic process unrelated to chronological time. Furthermore, these processes are likely to vary spatially and temporally for animal populations. We conclude that the current data suggest telomeres should not be used for age estimation. If telomere-based age estimation is to be used, more work in understanding variability in key processes affecting telomere dynamics and rigorous substantiation via blind testing is needed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:age estimation, biological age, demography, non-invassive
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Dunshea, GJ (Mr Glenn Dunshea)
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:76849
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:32
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2012-03-14
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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