Carolyn Hodges-Simeon

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Boston U.

Grant number

Gr. 9947

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Hodges-Simeon, Carolyn (Boston U.) "Disentangling the Effects of Energetic Availability and Extrinsic Mortality on the Timing of Puberty among Honduran Immigrants"

Pubertal timing shows wide inter-individual and inter-population variability. Previous research has shown that a wide array of early-life socioecological and physiological factors may affect the timing of puberty, yet the literature is hampered by weak theoretical organization, confounded constructs, and an over-reliance on female and Western subjects. The present research uses life history theory to organize the diverse factors that potentially influence pubertal maturation into two organizing constructs: energetic availability and extrinsic mortality. Data collection will focus on a population that exhibits interesting variation in the constructs of interest: mainland Hondurans aged 10 to 18 that have immigrated to the Honduran island of Utila. Methodologically diverse measures will be collected on: 1) the rate and timing of pubertal development; 2) energy availability; 3) cues to extrinsic mortality (e.g. history of parental presence/absence, deaths of other kin); and 4) behavioral life history strategies (e.g. educational aspirations, fertility preferences). Analyses will initially focus on identifying measures that best assay energy and mortality, and then will use those measures to address the pathway to pubertal timing, and from pubertal timing to reproductive and educational aspirations. Life history theory predicts that low energy will delay puberty, whereas high mortality will accelerate puberty.