Liebert, Melissa Ann, U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Psychosocial Stress and Culture Change among Indigenous Amazonian Shuar: Integrating Developmental, Biological, and Cognitive Perspectives,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence S. Sugiyama
PROVIDE A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PROJECT IN PLAIN ENGLISH (UNFORMATTED -- WITHOUT BULLETS OR NUMBERED LISTS -- 200 WORD MAXIMUM).
Recent studies among indigenous populations suggest that psychosocial stress is an important pathway through which socioecological changes associated with market integration (MI) shape human biology. Surprisingly, however, little research has systematically investigated this topic. In particular, few studies have examined how factors associated with MI influence children's perceptions of the shifting cultural milieu and how these experiences become biologically embodied to impact stress, life history trade-offs, and health. Given that early life stress can induce enduring physiological dysregulation across multiple systems, research is greatly needed to capture the nuances of MI that affect developmental stress and long-term health.
To address these issues, this project will integrate methods from biological and cognitive anthropology with rich ethnographic data on culture change and perceptions of lifestyle success in order to elucidate how MI affects stress physiology and life history patterns among Indigenous Shuar children of Amazonian Ecuador. This study will examine these relationships among 200 children and adolescents from two communities experiencing varying degrees of MI by measuring two biomarker indices of psychosocial stress [diurnal cortisol profiles and allostatic load (including measures of cortisol, Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, C-reactive protein, and growth)], cognitive models of lifestyle success, and lifestyle data indicative of MI exposure.
Quinn, Dr. Elizabeth Anne, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Milk with Altitude: Investigations Into Milk Composition and Physiology Among Tibetans'
Preliminary abstract: Plasticity during postnatal development likely played a key role in human adaptation, providing a way for populations to adapt to challenging ecological conditions at a fast pace while the genotype 'caught up'. This may have been especially important for human expansion into unusually stressful environments such as high altitude. High altitude populations typically have increased basal metabolic rates, possibly limiting the energy available for growth and reproduction. Among high altitude adapted populations, such as Tibetans, there is evidence for chronic stunting suggesting that energy investment in linear growth but not adiposity may be reduced. However, the incidence of wasting is much lower, possibly reflecting a prioritization of adipose tissue as a buffer against cold or altitude associated stress during infancy. During the postnatal period, human milk may provide organizational signals to the infant as a means of facilitating phenotypic adaptation to the environment. Human milk has never been studied among high altitude populations and may be a possible postnatal developmental signal promoting increased adiposity and decreased linear growth in these populations. This study will investigate milk hormones, macronutrients, and energy in a sample of 100+ ethnic Tibetans living in six villages from 7500 ft. to 12500 ft. Maternal reproductive histories will be collected and used to investigate reproductive investment. Anthropometrics on mothers and infants, milk samples, and fingerprick blood spots will also be collected and used to test for an association between maternal body composition, circulating hormone levels, milk composition, and infant attained size for age by altitude and nutritional status of mothers. This study is the first study of human milk among a high altitude population and has the potential to provide insights into the role of human milk part of human adaptation.
Gettler, Lee Thomas, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Longitudinal Perspectives on Paternal Socioendocrinology in the Philippines,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa
LEE T. GETTLER, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Longitudinal Perspectives on Paternal Socioendocriniology in the Philippines,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa. Much prior research has been conducted on the neuroendocrine underpinnings of maternal care, but much less is known about paternal socioendocrinology, particularly among human males. This research is the first to demonstrate that fatherhood causally decreases testosterone in human males. The finding that fathers involved in high levels of childcare have lower testosterone also adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that suppression of testosterone by fatherhood is potentially mediated through paternal care. Finally, these data represent one of the few evaluations of human paternal prolactin, especially in the context of short-term, father-child interaction. Prolactin is likely an important hormone influencing expression of paternal care behaviors in men, but it has been given substantially less attention in studies of male socioendocrinology, relative to, for example, testosterone. The findings that first-time fathers and those who feel support by their wives show greater declines in prolactin when interacting with their children provide important insights on the plasticity of human male physiology as men move through different life history stages and priorities shift. In total, this research presents multiple lines of evidence that behavior/personality influence biology and vice versa, reflecting the mutually-regulatory, interactive relationship between behavior and biology.
Gettler, Lee T., Sonny S. Agustin, and Christopher W. Kuzawa. 2010. Testosterone, Physical Activity, and Somatic Outcomes Among Filipino Males. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 142(4):590-599.
Gettler, Lee T., Thomas W. McDade, Sonny S. Agustin, and Christopher W. Kuzawa. 2011. Short-Term Changes in Fathers' Hormones during Father-Child Play: Impacts of Paternal Attitudes and Experience. Hormones and Behavior 60(5):599-606.
Gettler, Lee T., Thomas W. McDade, Alan B. Feranil, and Christopher W. Kuzawa. 2011. Longitudinal Evidence that Fatherhood Decreases Testosterone in Human Males. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 108(39):16194-16199.
Gettler, Lee T., Thomas W. McDade, Alan B. Feranil, and Christopher W. Kuzawa. 2012. Prolactin, Fatherhood, and Reproductive Behavior in Human Males. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148(3):362-370.
Gettler, Lee T., James J. McKenna, Thomas W. McDade, et al. 2012. Does Cosleeping Contribute to Lower Testosterone Levels in Fathers? Evidence from the Philippines. PLOS One 7(9):1-11,
Madimenos, Dr. Felicia, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY - To aid engaged activities on 'Engaging Shuar Communities Through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research,' 2013, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador
DR. FELICIA MADIMENOS, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in February 2013 to aid 'Engaging Shuar Communities through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research in Morona-Santiago, Ecuador.' Misinformation regarding the causes and prevention of illness/disease and miscommunication between local health care providers and patients present hurdles for the anthropologist/health researcher working in a non-Western context. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance for anthropologists to consciously bridge communication barriers by creating ample time for dialog with the participant and translating health data into an accessible form. The Engaged Anthropology Grant provided an opportunity to reconsider how the grantee conducts health research with indigenous Amazonian Shuar communities in Ecuador and achieved the following goals: 1) to develop family health days for participants permitting more individualized discussions of health (these meetings also created a platform for dissemination of population-specific health materials); 2) to facilitate a community-level workshop led by a Shuar colleague/health promoter that focused on family planning options; and 3) to participate in community-wide presentations that highlighted common health issues among Shuar and introduced potential health resources in the participants' own community. These platforms emphasize that in order for health information to remain relevant over the long-term, anthropologists must develop opportunities that empower communities by making accessible the knowledge and information necessary for participants to participate in, and affect informed decisions about their health.
Robins, Tara C., U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Social Change, Parasite Exposure, and Autoimmunity among Shuar Forager- Horticulturalists of Amazonia: An Evolutionary Medicine Approach,' supervised by Dr. J. Josh Snodgrass
Preliminary abstract: Exposure to parasites is hypothesized to decrease the risk of autoimmune disorders by regulating immune activity. Termed the Hygiene Hypothesis, this suggests that exposure to certain microbes helps organize immune function and prevents immune response to harmless stimuli. The Disappearing Microbiota Hypothesis takes this a step further, suggesting that recent changes in human ecology are altering the composition of our intestinal bacteria, thereby reducing vital immune programming. Existing research suffers from two weaknesses. First, almost all studies of these relationships have been conducted in Western clinical settings among populations with low infection rates, limiting our knowledge of the contextual factors that affect immune regulation. Second, there is very little anthropological research that explores the co-evolutionary relationship between humans and microbes. The proposed study uses evolutionary medicine and biocultural frameworks to further test these hypotheses among the indigenous Shuar forager-horticulturalists of Ecuador, who are currently experiencing rapid social change resulting in pronounced intra-population variation in parasite exposure. Avoidance behaviors, intestinal parasite composition, and autoimmune disease prevalence will be examined among Shuar at different levels of market integration. This project is the first population-based study to examine relationships between microbe exposure and autoimmunity among an indigenous population transitioning to a market-based economy.
Gray, Dr. Peter Bard, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone'
DR. PETER B. GRAY, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone.' What are the impacts of fatherhood on Jamaican men? The project addresses this wider question in several ways. Fathers of children aged approximately 18-24 months were asked about their paternal attitudes, relationship dynamics, sexual function, and health, enabling testing for effects of fatherhood on such outcomes as relationship quality and depression. The potential moderating effects of socioeconomic status on these changes are also addressed, since the variable resources available to men may also influence the quality of their partnerships and availability to meet paternal expectations. In a context of variable male parental involvement and many families with mixed parentage, paternal outcomes of biological and stepfathers are compared. Existing cross-cultural studies suggests that biological fathers tend to be more invested in their children, a proposition also tested here. Last, the project tests the hypothesis that biological fathers have lower testosterone levels than stepfathers. Altogether, findings from this study enhance an understanding of the changes fathers of young children undergo; the different experiences of biological and stepfathers; and one of the possible physiological mechanisms differentiating the experiences of biological and stepfathers. Since these areas are of interest and relevance not just in Jamaica, this project contributes to wider discussions of fatherhood.
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.
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
Preliminary abstract: Currently, many Amazonian populations are undergoing a period of rapid change in lifestyle through increased market exposure and market participation, including wage labor, surplus production, selling, and buying items. The social sciences emphasize that when populations undergo lifestyle transitions (i.e., changes to dietary, economic, and cultural activities), health, disease patterns, and body composition are affected. A common explanation points to changes in energetic inputs and outputs, while higher population density increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. However, hydration strategies, or how people meet their dietary water needs, may serve as dietary adaptations that balance hydration, pathogen exposure, and nutritional status. Furthermore, lifestyle transitions may create a mismatch between hydration strategies and the nutritional landscape. The proposed study will assess the relationships between hydration strategies and hydration, nutritional status, pathogen exposure, and immune activation, and evaluate how market participation is related to water consumption patterns among Tsimane' Amerindians in Lowland Bolivia. This study will expand our understanding of variation and consequences of hydration needs and contribute to literatures on nutritional anthropology, life history theory, and lifestyle transitions. Responses to lifestyle transitions are important to anthropology because they provide insight into both past and future trends of human variation in nutrition and health.