A fundamental theorem that can help determine the age distribution of essentially any species came out of the experiment to estimate the age structure of a fruit fly population.
This emerging theorem on stationary populations shows that you can determine the age distribution of a population by looking at how long they still have to live.
AdvertisementThe mathematical discovery can help produce data with a wide range of implications, from predicting rates of infectious diseases, such as West Nile virus spread by mosquitoes, to anticipating the health care needs of an aging population.
"The idea is you can't look at an insect and say: How much longer are you going to live?" said Dr. James R. Carey, entomologist at the University of California, Davis. "If you understand the age structure of the population, you can better understand the risks and needs," said Dr. Arni S.R Srinivasa Rao, a mathematical modeler at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. "If there are more children, you need to worry about schools; if there are more older people, you need to worry about health benefits." Rao noted that while many countries, including the United States, have good population data generated by regular surveys, others, including some European and many Third World countries, still don't.