Evolutionary Biodemography

Detailed description

© iStockphoto.com / saiko3p

The Laboratory of Evolutionary Biodemography aims to understand how evolution has shaped age-specific trajectories of parameters such as mortality, fertility, and growth. By conducting research at the intersection of the related fields of demography and evolutionary biology, the Laboratory contributes novel methods and insights into how the life histories of all living things have evolved.

To fulfill these objectives, the Laboratory of Evolutionary Biodemography is necessarily an interdisciplinary group that brings together demographers and evolutionary biologists, as well as mathematicians, statisticians, and anthropologists.

Tapping into general and methodological techniques from these disciplines, we take both a comparative and a single-species approach, and seek to address questions such as:

Which environmental conditions favor the evolution of long lifespans? How does ecological niche shape mortality and fertility patterns?

We focus on gaining a better understanding of how mortality and fertility trajectories have evolved in the tree of life, and aim to identify key events in the evolution of longevity. Key species such as the enigmatic non-aging hydra, basal metazoa, and reptiles serve as models for understanding specific environmental and physiological constraints and their effects on the evolution of lifespan.

To achieve the above goals, quality-controlled data are a prerequisite. We establish and maintain databases on the mortality and fertility schedules of a variety of organisms, from plants to invertebrates to vertebrates and humans. Most of our work involves gathering published data from peer-reviewed journals, but we also generate original data, either through collaborations with researchers elsewhere or through experimental approaches carried out in our laboratory facilities here at the Institute. All data will eventually be available online with open access. The population projection matrix databases COMPADRE and COMADRE are already online.


Featured Information

Latest News and Press Releases of the Laboratory

Uniform data for Biodemography - the database COMADRE run by the MPIDR contains demographic information on an unprecedented variety and number of animal species.  (January 26, 2016)

Forever young - Senescence, the decay of a living body with age, is not inevitable for all species, as a long-term experiment with the freshwater polyp Hydra proves. (December 8, 2015)



Phone +49 (0)381 2081-103
Deputy Head
Phone +49 (0)381 2081-212
Phone +49 (0)381 2081-135