Emma Cancelliere

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9399

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Cancelliere, Emma, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Variability in Nutritional Ontogeny in the Mountain Gorilla, Gorilla beringei,' supervised by Dr. Jessica Rothman

EMMA CANCELLIERE, then a graduate student at City University of New York, Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2017 to aid research on “Variability in Nutritional Ontogeny in the Mountain Gorilla, Gorilla beringei,” supervised by Dr. Jessica Rothman. Food resources are fundamental to the lives of all animals, with nutrients from food resources acting as essential currencies for all biological processes. Non-human primates are no exception to this rule, and meeting nutritional goals is key in shaping much of wild primate behavior, demography, and biogeography. Folivorous species like mountain gorillas, who rely on high fiber foods like leaves, face an especially challenging nutritional environment that requires specialized strategies and adaptations. Many of these strategies, including the symbiotic gastrointestinal microbiome used to break down indigestible compounds, develop after birth. Thus, at the heart of this project is a single question – how do infants and juveniles navigate a complex nutritional world, before they have fully developed the mechanical, behavioral, physiological, and microbial adaptations that adults rely on for this same task? Under the supervision of Dr. Jessica Rothman, doctoral student Emma Cancelliere has examined 1) the nutritional intake and feeding strategies of infant and juvenile mountain gorillas; 2) the dynamics of the gastrointestinal microbiome in infants and juveniles; and 3) the functional contribution of the microbiome as a nutritional strategy. This unique multilayered approach will provide new insights into early diet and nutritional strategies, with implications for our understanding of life history.