The variety of life histories displayed by the world’s animals and plants has fascinated scientists for centuries. One of the oldest and most fundamental life history questions is that of why some animals live a long time, while others only live a short time. Demography is at the core of this question and my research focusses on understanding the diversity of demographic behaviour in species across the tree of life and in different environments.
We address the topic at three hierarchical levels (1) the single population level, for example using tools such as Bayesian Survival Trajectory Analysis; (2) the species level where we take a ‘macrodemographic’ approach and study multiple populations of the same species separated spatially; and (3), a comparative level where we conduct comparative analyses of demographic traits across multiple species to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of aging. This work requires the development and use of sophisticated analytical approaches to confront demographic and phylogenetic data. Therefore, in addition to working to address the evolution of demography we spend time contributing to statistical approaches and building demographic databases.
We are part of the Max Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging (MaxO), based at the University of Southern Denmark and established in association with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany. The MaxO is the first Max Planck Center in Scandinavia and is an interdisciplinary and international co-operation between researchers drawn from demography, epidemiology, medicine, biology, mathematics and statistics.