In order to reveal patterns of reproductive aging in birds we focus on a short lived species, the Japanese quail and the American kestrel, which has a life span of medium length. Quail have been studied extensively in the laboratory as models for understanding avian endocrinology and behavior, and as a subject for toxicological research and testing. In the lab, Japanese quail show age-related deterioration in endocrine, behavioral, and sensory system responses; the American kestrel is relatively long lived and shows moderate evidence of senescence in the oldest birds. Using data collected from captive kestrels at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, a database was designed to document selected parameters over the life cycle of the kestrels. Life table data collated from many species indicate that longer lived species of birds show senescence in survival ability but this pattern has not been established for reproductive function. We suggest that useful comparisons among species can be made by identifying stages in reproductive life history, organized on a relative time scale. Preliminary data from quail and kestrels, admittedly only two species, do not yet indicate a pattern of greater reproductive senescence in longer-lived birds.
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Establishing appropriate measures for monitoring aging in birds: comparing short and long lived species