Social ageing: Exploring the drivers of late-life changes in social behaviour in mammals

Erin R. Siracusa, James P. Higham, Noah Snyder-Mackler, Lauren J.N. Brent

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Social interactions help group-living organisms cope with socioenvironmental challenges and are central to survival and reproductive success. Recent research has shown that social behaviour and relationships can change across the lifespan, a phenomenon referred to as 'social ageing'. Given the importance of social integration for health and wellbeing, age-dependent changes in social behaviour can modulate how fitness changes with age and may be an important source of unexplained variation in individual patterns of senescence. However, integrating social behaviour into ageing research requires a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of age-based changes in social behaviour. Here, we provide an overview of the drivers of late-life changes in sociality. We suggest that explanations for social ageing can be categorized into three groups: changes in sociality that (a) occur as a result of senescence; (b) result from adaptations to ameliorate the negative effects of senescence; and/or (c) result from positive effects of age and demographic changes. Quantifying the relative contribution of these processes to late-life changes in sociality will allow us to move towards a more holistic understanding of how and why these patterns emerge and will provide important insights into the potential for social ageing to delay or accelerate other patterns of senescence.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number20210643
    JournalBiology Letters
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2022

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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