Rosinger, Asher Yoel, U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Hydration Strategies, Nutrition, and Health During a Lifestyle Transition in the Bolivian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Susan Tanner
ASHER Y. ROSINGER, then a student at University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, received a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Hydration Strategies, Nutrition, and Health during a Lifestyle Transition in the Bolivian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Susan Tanner. Currently, many Amazonian populations are undergoing a period of rapid change in lifestyle through increased market participation and dietary changes, yet the search for clean water remains a critical problem facing many of these populations. The social sciences emphasize that when populations undergo lifestyle transitions, health, disease patterns, and body composition are affected. Lifestyle transitions may create a mismatch between hydration strategies and the nutritional landscape. This research found that Tsimane' have flexible hydration strategies that rely on their environment for water. Increased water intake from foods was associated with a decreased risk of diarrheal illness among adults, which may represent a nutritional adaptation to an environment with limited access to clean water. Tsimane' who lived in a market integrated community were significantly more dehydrated than Tsimane' living in a traditional community. These findings contribute to human biology theory by suggesting that lifestyle transitions may create conditions that increase vulnerability to dehydration among rural populations. Additionally, lactating women were significantly more dehydrated than non-lactating women controlling for environmental and lifestyle factors. This work illustrates the nutritional challenges lactating women face in stressful physical environments and raises evolutionary questions dealing with maternal buffering during chronic dehydration.
Rosinger, Ascher. 2015. Heat and Hydration Status: Predictors of Repeated Measures of Urine Specific Gravity Among Tsimane' Adults in the Bolivian Amazon. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 158(4):696-707
Rosinger, Asher. 2014. Water from Fruit or the River? Examining Hydration Strategies and Gastrointestinal Illness among Tsimane' Adults in the Bolivan Amazon. Public Health Nutrition. (Published Online, DOI 10.1017/s1368980014002158)
Rosinger, Asher. 2014. Dehydration among Lactating Mothers in the Amazon: A Neglected Problem. American Journal of Human Biology. (Published Online.DOI 10.1002/ajhb.22672)
Betti, Lia, U. of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Out of Africa and What Happened Next: Exploring the Origins of Human Pelvic Shape Variability,' supervised by Dr. Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel
LIA BETTI, then a student at University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Out of Africa and What Happened Next: Exploring the Origins of Human Pelvic Shape Variability,' supervised by Dr. Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel. The origin of human morphological diversification is one of the most intriguing questions in human evolution. Starting from a single origin of the species, how did the current pattern of morphological diversity between populations develop? Recent studies on cranial shape variation disclosed a very strong signature of the Out Of Africa expansion of our species on the global pattern of morphological diversity. This study builds upon this knowledge and explores the foundation of pelvic shape variation. Being involved in locomotion, childbirth, and potentially subject to climatic factors, the pelvis is a key anatomical region in studies of human biology and evolution. 3D pelvic morphometric data were collected from 27 globally distributed modern human populations. An explicit population genetic approach was used to explore the effect of different evolutionary factors on the global pattern of variation, revealing a strong signature of ancient demographic history on pelvic shape variation, with climatic adaptation and obstetrical constraints playing a secondary role.
Betti, Lia. 2014. Sexual Dimorphism in the Size and Shape of the Os Coxae and the Effects of Microevolutionary Processes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 153(2):167-177.
Froehle, Andrew William, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Physical Activity and Basal Metabolic Rate in Postmenopausal Women,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Schoeninger
ANDREW WILLIAM FROEHLE, then a student at University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, California, received a grant in October 2007 to aid research on 'Physical Activity and Basal Metabolic Rate in postmenopausal Women,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Schoeninger. The project investigated the relationship between age, exercise and basal metabolic rate (BMR) in postmenopausal women, comparing two subgroups: 'active' (>5 hours exercise/week) and 'training' (sedentary at baseline, completed four-month exercise program). Across the entire sample, BMR correlated significantly with fat free mass (FFM; P<0.001, R=0.862) and physical activity level (PAL; P=0.004, R=0.542), but not with age or maximal aerobic capacity (VO2MAX). At baseline, subgroups differed significantly for BMR (P=0.005) and VO2MAX (P=0.006); active women were also 4.9 kg heavier (FFM) than sedentary women (not significant: P=0.077). Within the active group, no variables changed significantly over the study period. Meanwhile, the training sample exhibited significant increases over baseline in VO2MAX (P=0.015) and BMR (P=0.002), despite no change in FFM (P=0.952). Controlling for effects of the covariate FFM, subgroups differed significantly for BMR at baseline (P=0.007), but not at the end of the study (P=0.089). Results suggest that in this population, both short- and long-term exercise associate similarly with elevations in BMR above sedentary levels. Contrary to some research, this may not be tied to increased FFM. These results have implications for preventative exercise prescription against age-related health risks, and will help refine models of metabolic physiology in active postmenopausal women.
Froehle, Andrew W., S.R. Hopkins, L Natarajan, and M.J. Schoeninger. 2013. Moderate to High Levels of Exercise are Associated with Higher Resting Energy Expenditure in Community-dwelling Postmenopausal Women. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 38(11):1147-1153.
Houck, Kelly Marie, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'A New Dual Burden Life History Theory Application Exploring Childhood Gut Immune Function and Overnutrition,' supervised by Dr. Amanda Thompson
KELLY HOUCK, then a graduate student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was awarded funding in April 2014 to aid research on 'A New Dual Burden Life History Theory Application Exploring Childhood Gut Immune Function and Overnutrition,' supervised by Dr. Amanda Thompson. The emerging field of gut microbiota contributes to anthropological concerns by providing a new pathway to examine the effects of pathogenic, nutritional, and social environments on human physiology and consequently human variation. The bacterial components and metabolites of gut microbial communities are vital factors in the regulation of the immune system and in providing energy processing. This project develops and tests a new application of childhood life history theory tradeoffs in maintenance and growth for the dual burden environment through a focus on gut immune function. This framework incorporates the increased energetic cost of both dietary- and pathogenic-induced immune activation and models the influence of gut immune function on diverting resources from linear bone growth towards adiposity. Children were sampled from San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, and detailed survey data was collected on their diet, symptom history, sociodemographics and household sanitation, along with anthropometric assessments, household water quality tests, and blood spot and fecal analyses of gut immune function biomarkers. Data will be used to test for the relationship between overnutrition and infection on gut immune activation and to determine the cost of pathogenic and dietary immune activation on tradeoffs in adiposity and linear growth.
Maxfield, Amanda Leigh, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'A Biocultural Study of the Links Between Food Insecurity and Mental Health in India,' supervised by Dr. Craig Hadley
Preliminary abstract: Food insecurity-- uncertain access to sufficient food to maintain a healthy and active life-- negatively affects both physical and mental wellbeing. The majority of research on food insecurity focuses on the biological value of food for health, but food has both biological and cultural importance for humans. This project will examine the role that the social meaning of food plays in linking food insecurity to mental wellbeing. Specifically, this research tests the possibility that individuals literally consume the cultural meaning attached to different foods, and that this embodied meaning influences biological processes like stress that ultimately impact mental health. Globalization and the nutrition transition introduce new foods and food-related behaviors to communities around the world. A growing body of research demonstrates that relative inequality may be as detrimental to wellbeing as absolute income. This project will examine whether the changing dietary landscape in India sets food insecure individuals up for aspirational failure, by introducing them to a wide variety of foods they can never or rarely expect to attain. Specifically, this research will examine whether exposure to novel and global foods heightens feelings of relative food insecurity, thereby harming mental health.
Rowe, Elizabeth Jane, Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'The Role of the Progesterone Receptor in the Menstrual Cycle,' supervised by Dr. L. Christie Rockwell
ELIZABETH JANE ROWE, then a student at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in May 2008, to aid research on 'The Role of the Progesterone Receptor in the Menstrual Cycle,' supervised by Dr. L. Christie Rockwell. Much of the work in Physical Anthropology related to variation in women's reproductive function has been heavily focused on evolutionary models to explain the responsiveness of ovarian steroid production to ecological conditions. Underlying functionally significant, genetic variation that also likely impacts reproductive phenotypes has seldom been investigated. This project addressed this problem by investigating the impact of a common, functionally significant variant of the progesterone receptor gene on uterine function and the menstrual cycle among women in the Philadelphia area. Women who carried the variant differed from women who did not with regard to menstrual cycle characteristics. Furthermore, the variant was found to modify the impact of life history and ecological variables on both uterine function and the menstrual cycle. These findings indicate that genetic variation should be considered in future models for women's reproduction in Physical Anthropology. Additionally, uterine function and menstrual cycle characteristics did not reflect ovarian hormone levels, but instead were significantly predicted by ecological variables that indicated energetic status. These findings, coupled with results of other work, indicate that the uterus responds directly to environmental cues, and therefore suggest that it plays an active role in the maternal decision to commit resources to gestation.
Fujita, Masako, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid 'An Evolutionary Perspective on Mother-Offspring Vitamin A Transfer,' supervised by Dr. Bettina Shell Duncan
MASAKO FUJITA, then a student at University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'An Evolutionary Perspective on Mother-Offspring Vitamin A Transfer,' supervised by Dr. Bettina Shell-Duncan. This project investigated the perplexing decline in breastmilk vitamin A (VA) concentrations across the postpartum months. Applying the concept of life-history tradeoffs, this decline was hypothesized to be an evolved maternal reproductive strategy optimizing physiological reallocation of VA between competing needs of current and future reproduction depending on postpartum time and reproductive status. The hypotheses were tested using breastmilk VA and maternal hepatic VA data, collected among 250 lactating Ariaal mothers in northern Kenya, as indices for maternal investment respectively on current reproduction and future reproduction. Data indicated maternal hepatic VA is in a trade-off relationship with milk VA postpartum. Breastmilk VA does not track hepatic VA but instead declines despite increasing hepatic stores in the late postpartum period. Results shed light on the evolutionary ecological heritage of human micronutrient metabolism and human reproduction, and further illuminate policy directions for currently recommended public health strategy of high-dose postpartum maternal VA supplementation.
Fujita, Masako, Eric Roth, Yun-Kia Lo, Carolyn Hurst, Jennifer Vollner, and Ashley Kendell. 2012. In Poor Families, Mothers' Milk is Richer for Daughters than Sons: A Test of Trivers-Willard Hypothesis in Agropastoral Settlements in Northern Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149(1):52-59.
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
DR. MICHAELA HOWELLS, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, received funding in March 2015 to aid engaged activities on 'Promoting Dialog between Health Care Providers and Pregnant Women on American Samoa.' There is a lack of culturally salient, bilingual health education materials in American Samoa. The available education materials are mostly written in English and featured white people, a minority on island. According to the resident health care professionals, these materials failed to reflect Samoan culture and thus missed an important opportunity to educate women. As a result, the grantee launched a collaborative project between the women's health professionals in American Samoan Department of Health (DOH), Women Infant Child (WIC), and LBJ Tropical Medical Center (LBJ) - the island's only hospital. Together five educational posters were developed that focused on women's reproductive healthcare themes: prenatal care, high risk pregnancies, nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, birth control options, and breast feeding. After gaining their permission, the grantee took photos of pregnant Samoan women, Samoan babies, health care professionals, clinics, food, and community exercise and combined these with culturally appropriate colors and designs. Each draft was reviewed by the women's health care team, and these posters were printed and disseminated to the island's clinics. The creation of culturally relevant, long lasting, health care materials helps reinforce the connection between the prenatal care needs of Samoan women and the medical community that serves them.
McCabe, Collin Michael, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Unwelcome Guests: Human-rodent Cohabitation and its Implications for Disease Transfer in Sedentary Agricultural Populations,' supervised by Dr. Richard Wrangham
Preliminary abstract: Rodents have inhabited human settlements since at least the advent of agriculture and sedentary lifestyles. This close contact between humans and rodents has been, and still is, a source of many emerging zoonotic diseases. However, little is known about what drives species to commensal lifestyles, and even less is known about whether these commensal species are more likely than non-commensal rodents to carry novel zoonotic pathogens. The aim of this study is to investigate certain behavioral and ecological factors that favor commensal living and pathogen burdens in East African rodents. I hypothesize that more exploratory rodent species with broader diets will more likely be commensal, and will likely have higher pathogen burdens. I plan to live-trap rodents in central Kenya from a community of 25 wild species, in both recently settled human agricultural villages and adjacent, undisturbed habitats to determine each species' level of commensality and the features of these wild rodents that favor commensal living. I will also obtain biological samples from these rodents to determine the zoonotic pathogen burdens. By enriching knowledge of rodent disease ecology, this project will provide data to hone or even transform our understanding of selective pressures of zoonotic pathogens on early agriculturalists.