About the author: Liz Hodge is the Director of Media & Marketing Communications for the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) , the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to improving human and veterinary health by promoting public understanding and support for humane and responsible animal research. A non-profit foundation, the FBR works to inform the news media, teachers, students and parents, pet owners and other groups about the essential need for lab animals in medical and scientific research and discovery.
The replacement of animal testing and animal experimentation with nonanimal techniques often yields both ethical and technical advantages. Clinical, epidemiological, and pathological investigations remain the foundation of research on human disease. Although animals are often used when ethical or practical issues have precluded the study of humans, the evolving scientific understanding of the complexity of animals and of their social and psychological needs underscores longstanding ethical concerns about their use in laboratory science.
Tables of animal lifespans typically show durations of survival by adult members of a species. However, most individuals die much sooner , before reaching maturity. This is a simple consequence of the fact that females give birth to far more offspring than can survive to reproduce in a stable population. For instance, while humans can produce only one child per reproductive season (excepting twins), the number is 1-22 offspring for dogs ( Canis familiaris ), 4-6 eggs for the starling ( Sturmus vulgaris ), 6,000-20,000 eggs for the bullfrog ( Rana catesbeiana ), and 2 million eggs for the scallop ( Argopecten irradians ). [SolbrigSolbrig, p. 37] Take a look at this figure from Thomas J. Herbert's article [Herbert] on r and K selection illustrating extremely high infant mortality for "r strategists." Most small animals like minnows and insects are r strategists.