Madimenos, Felicia Chrisafo, U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Lifestyle and Reproductive Effects on Bone Mineral Density in an Ecuadorian Forager-Horticulturalist Population,' supervised by Dr. James Josh Snodgrass
FELICIA C. MADIMENOS, then a student at University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, received funding in April 2009 to aid research on 'Lifestyle and Reproductive Effects on Bone Mineral Density in an Ecuadorian Forager-Horticulturalist Population,' supervised by Dr. James Josh Snodgrass. Bone mineral density (BMD) is the primary diagnostic parameter of bone health and a predictor of future fracture risk. The mechanisms and life history trade-offs affecting bone integrity evolved under conditions quite different from those experienced by industrialized populations, yet minimal data on bone health are available from non-Western, subsistence populations. Such data are particularly important because people in subsistence-based populations have dietary, reproductive, and activity patterns more like those of our evolutionary past. Using calcaneal ultrasound, this study presents the first available data on bone health among the Shuar, an indigenous Ecuadorian Amazonian population, and non-Shuar colonists (colonos) from the same area. Results show that among colonos, BMD is positively correlated with the consumption of fish and greens but not other food categories. Among Shuar, no such relationship is found but BMD is negatively associated with greater ownership of market goods. Further analyses considering the effects of reproductive history show that in both populations multiparity provides a protective effect on BMD but this protection is lost with increased duration of lactation per child (> 24 months). The most protective effect on bone health is realized when mothers breastfeed multiple children for shorter durations.
Sellen, Dr. Daniel William, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada - To aid workshop on 'Cross-Cultural Comparisons in Early Postnatal Care Practices,' 2007, Mbulu District, Tanzania, in collaboration with Dr. Crystal Lauren Patil
'Cross-Cultural Comparisons in Early Postnatal Care Practices'
November 25-28, 2008, Haydom Lutheran Hospital, Mbulu District, Tanzania
Organizers: Daniel Sellen (University of Toronto) and Crystal Patil (University of
Illinois - Chicago)
Twenty-five anthropologists, community development workers, nutritionists, nurses, and physicians from around the world came together at this workshop to discuss the cultural and health-related aspects of diversity in early postpartum care practices and maternal, neonatal, infant, and child health in ethnically diverse communities in East Africa. Collaborating
institutions included the host hospital and universities in Tanzania, Norway, Canada, and the United States. The workshop aimed to be innovative in its focus on the applied anthropology of early child care and on local issues in global context. Presentations, facilitated discussions, hospital rounds, and cultural tours facilitated structured academic exchange designed to develop new theory, methods, and indicators to document, describe, and compare key aspects of early child care practices that vary with socio-cultural, economic, ecological, and individual factors and are linked to health outcomes. A consensus on emerging practical and theoretical topics and current knowledge gaps was established and is being used as a basis for developing specific research collaborations in Tanzania among sub-groups of the participants.
DeCaro, Dr. Jason A., U. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL - To aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation'
DR. JASON A. DeCARO, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was awarded funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation.' Rising global obesity rates, and the historically limited effectiveness of behavioral interventions in addressing them, motivate the search for new understandings of biocultural and psychosocial determinants of physical activity. Physical activity occurs as a constituent of broader daily routines that are culturally constructed, complexly motivated, and socially constrained. Hence, daily routines may be viewed as a mechanism through which culture is progressively embodied across the life course, with body size and composition among the outcomes. In West Alabama, interviews, detailed daily activity diaries, 24-hour 5-day actigraphy (accelerometry), and BMI/body composition measurements were undertaken with 37 Mexican/Mexican-American young adults, including both recent non-student immigrants and college students. High agreement across subgroups regarding ideals for leisure-time physical activity intersect with profound intergroup and gender variation in beliefs and practices regarding the integration of physical activity into daily life. Further, the social context of physical activity moderates its relation to body size and composition. By combining biological, cultural, and behavioral data, it is possible to open new windows into embodiment as a biocultural process.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Return to School Accompanied by Changing Associations between Family Ecology and Cortisol. Developmental Psychobiology 50(2):183-195.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Culture and the Socialization of Child Cardiovascular Regulation at School Entry in the US. American Journal of Human Biology. 20(5):572-583.
De Caro, Jason. 2011. Changing Family Routines at Kindergarten Entry Predict Biomarkers of Parental Stress. International Journal of Behavioral Development 35(5):441-448.
DeCaro, Jason. 2012. Investigating the Social Ecology of Daily Experience Using Computerized Structured Diaries: Physical Activity among Mexican American Young Adults. Field Methods 24(3):328-347.
Hazel, Dr. Mary-Ashley, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Ecology, Mobility, and Sexually Transmitted Virus Burden in a Pastoralist Population'
Preliminary abstract: Migration and other forms of human mobility contribute to the global transmission dynamics of infectious diseases. The act of being mobile--of spending significant amounts of time in different locations and environments--influences the patterns of a person's social contacts. Although some pandemic disease spread is driven by mobility that spans vast distances and requires only brief and or even indirect contact (e.g. influenza spreading along airline routes), transmission of diseases that require intense and frequent contact, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), usually occurs in the context of repetitive and local mobility. This issue is particularly important for rural populations with historically high rates of STDs that, due to recent changes in local mobility that increase contact with urban and novel populations, are at risk for introduction of HIV. One such high-risk context is Kaokoveld, Namibia, where traditional nomadic mobility (restricted mainly to rural areas) is merging with increased travel to growing urban areas and incoming mobility from adjacent regions with high HIV prevalence. This research will identify the major mobility patterns in Kaokoveld and how these mobility patterns shape structural determinants of risk in sexual contact networks for herpes simplex virus type 2. The outcomes of this study offer important insights into the underlying structural outcomes of diverse mobility in a pastoralist society and how social systems associated with a mobile lifestyle can drive epidemic spread.
Martin, Melanie Ann, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Maternal Factors Influencing Variation in Infant Feeding Practices in a Natural Fertility Population,' supervised by Dr. Michael Gurven
MELANIE A. MARTIN, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, California, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Maternal Factors Influencing Variation in Infant Feeding Practices in a Natural Fertility Population,' supervised by Dr. Michael Gurven. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for two years or longer promote optimal infant health and growth. Globally, however, many mothers introduce complementary foods and wean earlier than recommended. This study examined factors associated with variation in infant feeding practices in an indigenous population, the Tsimane of Bolivia. During 2012-2013, interviews and anthropometric measurements were collected from 147 Tsimane mothers and infants aged 0-36 months, with 47 mother-infant pairs visited repeatedly over eight months. Half of Tsimane infants were introduced to complementary foods by four months of age, although 75 percent were still breastfed at two years. On average, male infants were exclusively breastfed longer and weaned later than females. No other maternal, infant, or household factors measured influenced the duration of exclusive breastfeeding duration. Age at weaning, however, was increased by the number of family members over the age of 10, and decreased by a mother's subsequent pregnancy and total number of living offspring. Poor growth was evident in only two percent of infants aged 0-6 months, but increased markedly after twelve months. Earlier weaning and/or the quantity or quality of complementary foods may more significantly impact Tsimane infant growth and health outcomes than does early complementary feeding.
Shirley, Meghan, U. College London, London, UK - To aid research on 'Body Composition and the Brain: Investigating Life History Trade-offs in Living Humans,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan Wells
Preliminary abstract: Energy resources in any given environment are finite. Life history theory examines trade-offs between competing functions such as maintenance and reproduction across an organism's life course. For early humans, the evolution of a metabolically expensive brain was likely associated with reorganized energy investment and/or alterations in life history strategy and behavior. Insight into how the human brain was afforded may be most readily achieved with attention directed to investment 'decisions' at the level of organs and tissues. For example, Aiello and Wheeler's (1995) 'expensive tissue' hypothesis proposed that a reduction in the size of the human gut enabled encephalization. Research has demonstrated tissue trade-offs in a range of animals, yet empirical studies of human investment strategies remain rare. With the collection of MRI and body composition data from healthy adults, this project will investigate trade-offs between the human brain and other 'expensive' tissues of the body, trade-offs between the brain and adipose tissue, and also positive brain-body phenotype associations. Further, the study will examine the effect of early life experience on phenotype. This data will add to knowledge of the variability with which modern humans 'strategically' manage energy investment and lead to more robust inferences concerning hominin life history evolution.
Downey, Dr. Greg, Macquarie U., Ryde, Australia - To aid research and writing on 'Homo Athleticus: Comparative Sports and Human Physiological Diversity' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. GREG DOWNEY, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2006 to aid research and writing on 'The Athletic Animal: Sports and Human Potential.' The book uses a wide range of research on athletes from across many cultures - from Kenyan runners and Korean pearl divers, to no-holds-barred fighters in Brazil and Korean archers - to highlight how humans drive their own physiological and neurological development into distinctive configurations through training regimens, especially running, climbing, throwing, fighting, hitting, and other sports-related activities. Although athletes are extreme examples, they illustrate clearly how culture, patterns of behaviour, training, and body ideals have tangible effects on our bodies and brains. Based in dynamic systems theory and reappraisals of phenotypic plasticity, the book attempts to demonstrate a problem-driven synthesis of findings from both biological and cultural anthropology. Growing out of the research related to this book were also several articles, including one that explored how coaching in the Afro-Brazilian martial art and dance, capoeira, facilitates novices' acquisition of their own idiosyncratic movement techniques, and another on the relation of the 'mirror neuron' system in the human brain to imitative learning in skill acquisition.
Downey, Greg. 2008. Scaffolding Imitation in Capoeira: Physical Education and Enculturation in an Afro-Brazilian Art. American Anthropologist 110(2):204-213
Downey, Greg. 2010. 'Practice without Theory': A Neuroanthropological Perspective on Embodied Learning. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.):S22-S40.
Hodges-Simeon, Carolyn Randolph, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Life History Trade-offs Affecting the Development of Human Sexual Dimorphism,' supervised by Dr. Steven J. Gaulin
CAROLYN R. HODGES-SIMEON, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, California, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Life History Trade-Offs Affecting the Development of Human Sexual Dimorphism,' supervised by Dr. Steven J. Gaulin. The human vocal voice is sexually dimorphic in two primary ways: males have lower 'fundamental frequency' (F0, the perceptual correlate of which is 'pitch') and more closely spaced 'formant position' (Pf; also termed 'resonance'). These characteristics exhibit a pronounced and abrupt change during adolescence, marking the advancement of puberty. Research and data gathering target the developmental associations between dimorphic vocal characteristics (F0 and Pf), testosterone, immune functioning (secretory IgA and CRP), and energetic status (BMI and height) in adolescent boys in a non-industrialized population: the Tsimane' of lowland Bolivia. In doing so, this project uses the ontogeny of male vocal characteristics as a model system for examining two major theories in human evolutionary biology: 1) Life history theory (by examining trade-offs between reproductive and somatic investment); and 2) Immunocompetence handicap theory of sexual selection (by investigating whether sexually dimorphic signals are honest indicators of immunocompetence). Results indicate that males in better condition -- with better energetic and immune investment -- have higher testosterone levels, which are associated with lower voices. This research presents the first evidence that male vocal features are linked with condition, and that this association is mediated by testosterone.
Masterson, Erin Elizabeth, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Putting Teeth into the Developmental Origins Hypothesis: Early Childhood Ecology, Enamel Defects and Adolescent Growth,' supervised by Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Preliminary abstract: Like a window into the past, adult teeth may reflect early childhood ecology. Dental enamel on the permanent maxillary incisors calcifies incrementally during early childhood (0-5 years of age), is highly-sensitive to biological stress, and doesn't repair over the life course. Developmental defects in the enamel (DDE) are caused by metabolic disruption during development, including micronutrient deficiency, gastrointestinal disturbance, and bacterial and viral infections. According to developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) research findings and evolutionary theory, these factors may also influence chronic disease risk later in life. Bioarcheological findings have indicated an association exists between DDEs in the permanent dentition and increased morbidity and early mortality among skeletal remains, suggesting that dental enamel may be a retrospective marker of early childhood ecology. However, the association between DDEs and long-term health consequences has never been tested in a contemporary population. The purpose of the proposed project is to assess whether DDEs -- developed during the first five years of life -- is a marker of early childhood ecology and predictor of adolescent growth in a contemporary population. Based on evolutionary theory, we hypothesize that enamel defects mark a physiologically-stressful early childhood that predicts unhealthy growth in adolescence. We expect our study to provide the scientific community more confidence in interpretations of DDEs, and to introduce a new measure of early childhood ecology that may enable widespread study of the DOHaD and improve the sensitivity of these studies.