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Inferring maximum lifespan from maximum recorded longevity in the wild carries substantial risk of estimation bias

June 11, 2014

I mentioned a while ago that I had a paper coming out in a Rather Nice Journal. It’s out!

The paper looks at patterns in Maximum Recorded Longevity data – records of the oldest known individual – across multiple species. Maximum Recorded Longevity data have been widely used to look at differences in maximum lifespan in response to things like body size, phylogeny, diet, and flying ability. However, this paper shows that Maximum Recorded Longevity is not a particularly good proxy of maximum lifespan, and is badly biased by things like the number of individuals that there are data for in each species, whether the species tend to be alive or dead when they are recaptured, and the shape of the mortality curve for each species. Many previously-published studies are badly affected by those biases, and some may present completely false results as a consequence.

In any case, if you’d like to read the paper, it’s available here. If you’ve got questions about it, feel free to ask them in the comments!


h/t to my co-authors, Marc de Lisle and Mark Hauber


From → My Papers, Science

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