Middleton, Emily Ruth, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Ecogeographical Influences on Trunk Modularity in Recent Humans: Colonization and Morphological Integration,' supervised by Dr. Susan C. Anton
EMILY R. MIDDLETON, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'Ecogeographical Influences on Trunk Modularity in Recent Humans: Colonization and Morphological Integration,' supervised by Dr. Susan C. Antón. The ribcage, vertebral column, and pelvis have undergone numerous shape changes throughout hominin evolutionary history, responding to a wide suite of locomotor, obstetric, and climatic selective pressures. The degree to which morphological elements are integrated, or covary, has important implications for the way body form evolves, and this project seeks to understand the pattern of morphological integration in the trunk skeletons of modern humans and our closest living relatives. Most studies of integration focus on interspecific comparisons, but this project specifically investigates how intraspecific variation due to ecogeography and sex affect integration. Skeletal data were collected from a range of modern human populations and from multiple chimpanzee taxa. Preliminary results suggest support for the research hypotheses, with humans possessing weaker relationships among skeletal trunk elements than chimpanzees, which may have contributed to the successful colonization of diverse global environments by modern humans. In addition, human females appear to possess slightly weaker patterns of trunk integration than human males, which may relate to the protection of obstetric dimensions of the bony pelvis in the face of conflicting selective pressures. Additional data analyses are ongoing to further elucidate aspects of the pattern of trunk integration in modern humans and chimpanzees.
Snodgrass, James J., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Energetics, Health, and Lifestyles Change among the Yakut of Siberia,' supervised by Dr. William R. Leonard
JAMES J. SNODGRASS, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on 'Energetics, Health, and Lifestyles Change among the Yakut of Siberia,' supervised by Dr. William R. Leonard. This study examined the health consequences of economic modernization in the Yakut (Sakha), a high-latitude indigenous population of horse and cow pastoralists from the Sakha Republic of Russia. The two main research objectives were: 1) to investigate metabolic adaptation; and 2) to explore health and energy balance within the context of economic modernization. All research was conducted in the rural Siberian village of Berdygestiakh, Russia. Data were collected on: basal metabolic rate (BMR), total energy expenditure (TEE), blood pressure, body composition, diet, thyroid hormones, Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, and lifestyle and socioeconomic status. The results of this study indicate that, regardless of which reference standard is used, Yakut men and women have elevated BMRs. This study did not document any significant relationships between lifestyle measures and BMR, which suggests that genetic factors play an important role in metabolic elevation. This research provides baseline information on health and energy balance in the Yakut and investigates how specific lifestyle (e.g., physical activity and diet) and socioeconomic (e.g., income and education) factors contribute to the development of obesity and hypertension. Relatively low levels of physical activity, documented using the doubly labeled water technique, play an important role in the development of obesity in the Yakut, especially among women. Obesity and hypertension are emerging health issues among the Yakut. Affluence is associated with obesity among men, but not women; this parallels findings from nationally representative studies in Russia that document that health changes are more closely tied to socioeconomic status in men than women.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, William R. Leonard, M.V. Sorensen, L.A. Tarskaia, and M.J. Mosher. 2008. The Influence of Basal Metabolic Rate on Blood Pressure among Indigenous Siberians. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 137(2):145-155
Snodgrass, J.J., M.V. Sorensen, L.A. Tarskaia, and W.R. Leonard. 2007. Adaptive Dimensions of Health Research among Indigenous Siberians. American Journal of Human Biology 19:165-180.
Snodgrass, J.J., W.R. Leonard, L.A. Tarskaia, T.W. McDade, et al. 2007. Anthropometric Correlates of C-Reactive Protein among Indigenous Siberians. Journal of Physiological Anthropology 26:241-246.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, et al. 2006. The Emergence of Obesity among Indigenous Siberians. Journal of Physiological Anthropology 25(1):75-84.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, et al. 2006. Total Energy Expenditure in the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia as Measured by the Doubly Labeled Water Method. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84:798-806.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, W.R. Leonard, L. Tarskaia, V.P. Alekseev, and V.G. Krivoshapkin. 2005. Basal Metabolic Rate in the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia. American Journal of Human Biology 17:155-172.
Arps, Shahna L., Ohio State U., Columbus, OH - To aid research on 'Maternal Mortality and Morbidity among the Miskito of Eastern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Douglas E. Crews
SHAHNA L. ARPS, then a student at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, was awarded a grant in October 2004 to aid research on 'Maternal Mortality and Morbidity among the Miskito of Eastern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Douglas E. Crews. Fieldwork was conducted in Honduras (November 2004 - November 2005) to explore maternal health issues in Miskito communities along the Ibans lagoon in the department of Gracias a Dios. Focus groups, structured interviews, and health assessments provided data regarding the cultural, biological, behavioral, and socioeconomic factors that influence maternal morbidity and mortality. To investigate health among living women, reproductive histories and information on current health, household composition, and socioeconomic status were collected during initial interviews with 200 women. Follow- up interviews were conducted to investigate dietary intake, workload/activity, social support, decision-making (autonomy), episodes of illness, and health-seeking behavior. Verbal autopsies were also collected from family members to analyze causes and circumstances of maternal deaths in the region. Women reported 55 maternal deaths. Hemorrhage, usually due to prolonged labor or retained placenta, was the leading cause of death. Poverty, women's lack of autonomy, and inadequate access to health care interact in complex ways to produce compromised health and maternal mortality in Miskito communities. This research demonstrates the need for new maternal health initiatives in the region. It also contributes to an understanding of human adaptability and limits to adaptability in high-risk environments.
Eisenberg, Daniel Thomas Abraham, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: A Longitudinal and Cross-population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher W. Kuzawa
DAN EISENBERG, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received a grant in May 2010 to research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: a Longitudinal and Cross-Population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa . Telomeres are DNA sequences at chromosome ends that shorten with age and are required for proper cell division. Telomere shortening is associated with diminished cell proliferation capacity, which is believed to be a cause of senescence. Given the importance of cell proliferation to blood telomere length (BTL), it has been hypothesized that BTL reflects previous immune system activation and indicates current immune function. Thus BTL could provide a new biomarker of life history allocations and of developmental exposures to infection. Contrary to the shortening of BTL that occurs with age, previous studies have shown that children of older fathers have longer telomeres. By analyzing BTL data from the Philippines, Eisenberg and colleagues showed for the first time that this happens across at least two generations: older fathers not only have offspring with longer telomeres, but their sons also have offspring with longer telomeres. Analyses of how early life infection and growth predicts later BTL are ongoing.
Eisenberg, Dan. 2012. Delayed Paternal Age of Reproduction in Humans is Associated with Longer Telomeres across Two Generations of Descendants. PNAS Early Edition (published online).
Howells, Dr. Michaela, U. of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC - To aid engaged activities on 'Promoting Dialog Between Health Care Providers and Pregnant Women on American Samoa,' 2015, American Samoa
Preliminary abstract: The aim of this research is to develop a tiered, community level approach to engagement that emphasizes a tailored prenatal care educational outreach program for health care providers, nursing students, village leaders, and mothers on the American Samoa island of Tutuila. This project will be conducted from June to August 2015. There are four objectives to this project. Objective 1: Provide educational workshops to maternal health care workers in American Samoa. Objective 2: Provide prenatal care educational workshops at six villages across the island. Objective 3: Conduct prenatal care outreach in nursing training courses on American Samoa. Objective 4: Physically disseminate copies of my Wenner Gren funded dissertation. Through workshops, and the dissemination of findings from this research I will be able to strengthen the connection between the prenatal care needs of Samoan women and the medical community that serves them. This will result in a lasting dialog that will extend the legacy of this research and benefit the local community.
Howells, Michaela Emily, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'The Impact of Psychosocial Stress on Gestation Length and Pregnancy Outcomes in American Samoa,' supervised by Dr. Darna Dufour
MICHAELA E. HOWELLS, then a student at University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'The Impact of Psychosocial Stress on Gestation Length and Pregnancy Outcomes in American Samoa,' supervised by Dr. Darna Dufour. The objective of this research is to determine the relationship between chronic maternal psychosocial stress on spontaneous abortion, gestation length, and neonate body size. In order to achieve this goal, the grantee conducted a biocultural, longitudinal, prospective study of pregnancy outcomes in 184 women experiencing significant shifts in cultural identity in American Samoa. Two interrelated indicators of psychosocial stress -- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibody concentration and status incongruence -- were paired with monthly maternal interviews to assess the effects of stress on pregnancy outcomes. EBV antibody concentrations represent a broad, non-specific response to psychosocial stressors. Status incongruence is related to a woman's status within the community and arises when an individual is unable to resolve traditional and nontraditional markers of status. This study follows from their first prenatal care appointment through to their pregnancies natural conclusion and will help clarify the effects of psychosocial stress on pregnancy outcomes. Pregnancy outcomes will be assessed in terms of neonate size for gestation. Possible outcomes include spontaneous abortions, preterm births (? 36 weeks) and full-term births. This study aims to add to our knowledge of the factors associated with pregnancy loss, premature delivery, and infants born small-for-gestational-age in a non-western population of women.
Nelson, Dr. Robin Gair, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY - To aid research on 'Residential Context, Non-Kin Care and Child Health Outcomes in Jamaica'
DR. ROBIN G. NELSON, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Residential Context, Non-Kin Care and Child Health Outcomes in Jamaica.' This study explores the relationship between residential context, parental investment, and child health outcomes in Jamaica. It centers on an examination of the growth and development of children living in state-sponsored homes, and children who are living with biological family members. Ethnographic, anthropometric, and biometric data were collected from 125 children living in state-sponsored children's homes, and 119 children living with their biological family members in Manchester Parish. Follow-up data were collected from 70 of 125 children who were still living in childcare facilities. Preliminary analyses reveal statistically significant correlations between residence in a state-sponsored care setting and anthropometric health indicators. There are also statistically significant gendered differences in the health outcomes between girls and boys living in these state-sponsored homes. These findings parallel ethnographic data detailing highly variable and gendered childcare practices in these homes. Future analyses will compare anthropometric and biometric data of children living with biological kin, and that of their peers living in the children's homes. These findings aid in our understanding of the ways that variability in kin investment and care setting come to correlate to particular health outcomes. This study navigates the intersection of evolutionary theory and biocultural studies of child care practices and health outcomes.
Thayer, Zaneta Marie, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Intergenerational Programming of Stress Reactivity: Role of Epigenetic Mechanisms,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa
ZANETA THAYER, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Intergenerational Programming of Stress Reactivity: The Role of Epigenetic Mechanisms,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa. Anthropologists have a long history of studying biological responses to environmental stress from diverse perspectives. Within our field the effects of maternal psychosocial stress on biology and health in the next generation is becoming a topic of increased interest. This research project evaluated the intergenerational effects of maternal stress experience among an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of pregnant women from Auckland, New Zealand. Women who had lower socioeconomic status and who experienced ethnic discrimination had higher evening cortisol in late pregnancy and gave birth to infants with elevated cortisol reactivity and altered gene regulation (methylation) profiles. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that maternal social environment impacts maternal and offspring biology. Notably, the types of stress exposures that impacted cortisol in the present study are relatively novel from an evolutionary perspective. Thus the evolved capacity for an intergenerational transfer of information could be maladaptive in the contemporary ecology when activated in response to structural inequalities within society. Future research evaluating diverse sources of stress and a range of biological responses in offspring are necessary to clarify whether modifications in offspring biology reflect adaptation or biological impairment.
Astorino, Claudia Marie, City U. of New York, Lehman College, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Does Human Sex Indicator Morphology in the Skull Co-vary With Age and Ancestry?,' supervised by Dr. Eric Delson
CLAUDIA MARIE ASTORINO, then a student at City University of New York, Lehman College, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Does Human Sex Indicator Morphology in the Skull Co-vary with Age and Ancestry,' supervised by Dr. Eric Delson. The human skeleton exhibits sexual dimorphism, or differences in physical form between males and females of the same species. This dissertation project investigates how sex, age, and ancestry inform the shape and size of sexually dimorphic features of the skull in recent modern humans. The research phase supported by this grant enabled 3D laser scans to be collected from a large, documented collection of skulls from both domestic and international skeletal collections. Over 300 adults and 50 subadults were scanned at the Smithsonian National Museum of National History (Washington, D.C.), Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris, France), University of Coimbra (Portugal), University of Bologna (Italy), and the University of Dundee (Scotland). Differences among human groups defined by sex, age, and/or ancestry were investigated by placing curves of 3D points on the surface of the laser scans and comparing their positions among groups of specimens. This study will help to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the range of sexual dimorphism in the recent modern human skull.
Escasa, Michelle Jickain, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Female Sociosexuality, Mate Preferences, and Sex Steroid Hormones of Lactating Women in Manila,' supervised by Dr. Peter B. Gray
MICHELLE J. ESCASA, then a student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Female Sociosexuality, Mate Preferences, and Sex Steroid Hormones of Lactating Women in Manila,' supervised by Dr. Peter B. Gray. This project investigates the influence of lactation on female sociosexuality and mate preferences in urban Manila, a population with long-term breastfeeding, low contraceptive use, and quick return to cycling. From an evolutionary perspective, female ancestors were likely spending more time pregnant and lactating rather than ovulating. Moreover, a majority of conceptions in natural fertility societies occurred in lactating, ovulating women. These considerations suggest that lactating women face important life history allocation trade-offs between mating and parenting effort that may be manifested in their sociosexual behavior and mate preferences. Breastfeeding (n=155) and control (n=105) women were recruited to provide a saliva sample (for testosterone and estradiol analyses) and complete a face and voice preference task to determine preferences for masculinity. All participants also completed a questionnaire that assessed sexual functioning, sociosexuality, and relationship satisfaction, along with demographic variables. Breastfeeding women report differences in commitment to their relationship, jealousy levels, sexual functioning, and preferences for high-pitched voices. Further analyses incorporate the age of the infant and the cycling status of participants. Cultural and life history factors will be discussed and will serve as a framework for the findings.