Leidy Sievert, Dr. Lynnette, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Do Women Who Think They Know Really Know? Validating Signals of Ovulation'
DR. LYNNETTE LEIDY SIEVERT, of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, received funding in November 2002 to aid research on signals of ovulation in women who believe they know when they ovulate. Sievert tested whether or not women who think they know when they ovulate really do know, by assessing the concordance between perceived signals of ovulation and an elevated level of urinary LH, a biological indicator of ovulation. Participants were ages 18 to 46, had regular menstrual periods, were using no form of hormonal contraception, and believed they knew when they ovulated. Fifty-three women began the study. Signals of ovulation reported at initial interview included cervical discharge (68%), abdominal pain (64%), increased libido (30%), changes in mood or energy (25%), basal body temperature (17%), and other, infrequently reported symptoms (45%). Signal reporting varied in relation to smoking habits, body mass index, and health status. Thirty-six women provided a total of 87 urine specimens for LH testing. Thirty-seven of the specimens tested positive for an LH surge, for a concordance rate of 43%. Using the first tested cycle from the 36 women who provided urine specimens, 13 demonstrated an LH surge, for a concordance rate of 36%. The mean level of accuracy among the 15 women who contributed three to six urine specimens was 49%. It appeared, then, that between one-third and one-half of women who thought they knew when they ovulated were correct.
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.
Hoke, Morgan Kathleen, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Changing Economic Activity, Infant Feeding, and Early Growth among the Quechua of Nuñoa, Peru,' supervised by Dr. William Leonard
Preliminary abstract: This biocultural research project examines the changing practices of infant feeding and the emergence of early growth inequalities in Nuñoa, Peru in light of ongoing political and economic changes, specifically the emergence of a new dairy industry and an increasing reliance on wage labor. Infancy is a critical period in which environmental and social inputs can have a significant effect on both health and socioeconomic outcomes later in life. Early nutrition has been shown to be particularly important. Drawing on anthropological and health literature on infant feeding, scholarship on the developmental origins of health and disease, and biocultural anthropology to inform research questions, this study represents a work of 'ethnographic human biology' (Wiley 2004). Previous anthropological research in Nuñoa dating to the 1960's allows findings to be contextualized within the political-economic and biological history of the region. Research methods include both ethnographic and biological approaches such as participant observation, interviews, infant nutritional assessment, anthropometric measurements, and infant focal follows. Original data will be analyzed to compare infant nutrition and growth between contemporary communities participating in different economic activities. Additional comparisons will be made with data collected in previous waves of research to identify dietary changes and highlight key changes in the growth process in the face of fifty years of economic changes.
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
Preliminary abstract: One of the core issues in paleoanthropology concerns the evolution of human body form -- changes in size, shape, and structure of the skeleton -- and the selective pressures influencing that evolution. The ribcage, spine, and pelvis have undergone numerous shape changes throughout our evolutionary history as we shifted from tree-dwelling apes to upright creatures who walk around on two legs, give birth to large-brained babies, and possess the unique ability to live in all types of global environments. Unlike studies that look at different regions of the skeleton in isolation, my research investigates the relationships between the bony elements of the trunk to test how changes in the shape of the hipbone, for example, affect the spine and vice versa. My research also examines the relationship between shape and environment to explore if humans have a novel, complex ability to adapt to climate in a way unlike other mammals. Looking at how the ribcage, spine, and pelvis are interrelated and how each of these regions varies with climate provides clues about how our body responds to selection. Elucidating these relationships is critical for understanding how body form in human ancestors responded to the challenges posed by difficult obstetrics and novel environments.
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.
Dufour, Dr. Darna L., U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'Work Efficiency in Lactating Women'
DR. DARNA L. DUFOUR, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, was awarded a grant in July 2004 to aid research on 'Work Efficiency in Lactating Women.' Lactation is the most costly phase of reproduction for human females and can increase a women's energy needs by 30 percent. Women can potentially meet this increase in energy needs by increasing their food energy intake, decreasing their physical activity and/or utilizing their body fat stores. This study examined a fourth way women can potentially meet their increased energy needs in lactation, that is by an increase in work (metabolic) efficiency in exercise. A sample of exclusively breastfeeding women was recruited and their work efficiency in exercise measured at peak lactation (3-4 months postpartum) and then again after weaning. Work efficiency in exercise was measured as delta efficiency (the ratio of work accomplished to energy needed to accomplish that work) using a submaximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer. The results demonstrated that delta efficiency is significantly higher at peak lactation than after weaning. Further, delta efficiency at peak lactation was significantly higher than in a control sample of non-pregnant, non-lactating women. These findings suggest that in addition to increased food energy intake, decreased physical activity and the utilization of fat stores, women can compensate for the extra energy demands of lactation through increases in work efficiency.
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
Preliminary abstract: 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 will be sampled from the three populated islands of the Galapagos and detailed survey data will be 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.
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.
Eaves-Johnson, K. Lindsay, U. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - To aid research on 'A Spirometric and Geo-Morphometric Baseline for the Study of Thoracic Patterning in Fossil Homo,' supervised by Dr. Robert Gary Franciscus
Preliminary abstract: Due to a general, though undocumented, sense that little diagnostic information can be gleaned from them, ribs and overall thoracic morphology have been comparatively understudied relative to other anatomical regions in human paleontology. This study tests the influence of skeletal thoracic shape on respiratory variables (e.g., total lung capacity, functional residual capacity, etc.) using computed tomography (CT), to expand our understanding of modern and Neandertal thoracic patterning. The mixed-sex CT sample consists of 50 respiratorily normal subjects and 10 subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), all between the ages of 20 and 60 (IRB: 199708651). This homogenous, living CT sample is compared with a regionally heterogeneous, mixed-sex skeletal sample from the extremes of human variation (n=134), as well as the Neandertal specimens Kebara 2, Tabun C1, Shanidar 3, and La Chapelle. Preliminary results suggest that, while gross spirometric measures, such as total lung capacity agree well with the predicted model, further study is needed to delineate the skeletal parameters most amenable to comparison for such variables as functional residual capacity. Additionally, comparisons of the Levantine Neandertals with the modern sample fail to demonstrate any significant temporal excursion from the range of modern variability with respect to these parameters.