Abstract

Historically demographers have viewed the results of actuarial studies of nonhuman species, particularly those on invertebrates such as fruit flies, as largely irrelevant to investigations on human populations. In this paper I present life table data from large scale studies on the Mediterranean fruit fly, and show that they provide important insights into fundamental aspects of mortality relevant to human populations: the trajectory of mortality at older ages, sex mortality differentials, the concept of maximal life span, and demographic heterogeneity and selection. An overriding theme of the paper is the need for demographers to acquire a heightened awareness of new developments in biology including areas such as evolutionary ecology, experimental demography, and molecular medicine.

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