Ovarian aging in developmental and evolutionary contexts
Article first published online: 25 AUG 2010
© 2010 New York Academy of Sciences.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume 1204, Reproductive Aging pages 82–94, August 2010
How to Cite
Finch, C. E. and Holmes, D. J. (2010), Ovarian aging in developmental and evolutionary contexts. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1204: 82–94. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05610.x
- Issue published online: 25 AUG 2010
- Article first published online: 25 AUG 2010
- follicular reserve;
- ovarian aging;
- ovarian development;
Evolutionary theory predicts that aging-related fertility declines result from tradeoffs between reproduction and somatic maintenance. Developmental programs for oogenesis also contribute to variation in aging-related reproductive declines among female vertebrates. Documented reproductive aging patterns in female vertebrates, including humans, are consistent with canonical aging patterns determined developmentally and require no special adaptive explanation. Here we discuss patterns of aging-related ovarian decline in diverse female vertebrates, and place human ovarian aging in comparative context. Depletion of finite oocyte stores accompanied by fertility loss occurs in a variety of nonhuman mammals and vertebrates, including short-lived rodents, birds, and some fishes; moreover, postreproductive lifespans of considerable length clearly are not limited to long-lived, social species with well-developed kin networks. We argue for a more rigorous comparative approach for understanding the evolutionary and developmental bases of ovarian aging in vertebrates with a wider range of aging patterns and social structures.