SKELETAL INTEGRITY IN MOOSE AT ISLE ROYALE NATIONAL PARK: BONE MINERAL DENSITY AND OSTEOPATHOLOGY RELATED TO SENESCENCE
We analyzed the relationships between skeletal condition and senescence using bones of moose (Alces alces) collected at Isle Royale National Park between 1958-1995. We found a significant decline in bone mineral density (BMD) in the cancellous bone of the metatarsus in male and female moose with age, and a significant relationship between low BMD in the long bones and osteoporotic skull lesions, indicating a pervasive loss of bone mass. Furthermore, we found an increase in the prevalence of osteoarthritis, periodontal disease, and osteoporosis after 7 years of age when decline in age-specific survival accelerates. Males experience and earlier decline in survival and an earlier increase in osteopathologies. From an evolutionary perspective, bone status at the time of death may be a consequence of behavioral and physiological strategies that maximize fitness during the prime reproductive years.
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