process of aging. Process preceding leaf drop in deciduous plants.
Senescence (//) or biological aging is the gradual deterioration of functional characteristics. The word senescence can refer either to cellular senescence or to senescence of the whole organism. Organismal senescence involves an increase in death rates and/or a decrease in fecundity with increasing age, at least in the later part of an organism's life cycle.
Senescence is the inevitable fate of all multicellular organisms with germ-soma separation, but it can be delayed. The discovery, in 1934, that calorie restriction can extend lifespan by 50% in rats, and the existence of species having negligible senescence and potentially immortal organisms such as Hydra, have motivated research into delaying senescence and thus age-related diseases. Rare human mutations can cause accelerated aging diseases.
Environmental factors may affect aging, for example, overexposure to ultraviolet radiation accelerates skin aging. Different parts of the body may age at different rates. Two organisms of the same species can also age at different rates, making biological aging and chronological aging distinct concepts.
There are a number of hypotheses as to why senescence occurs.