Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew York, Buffalo, State U. of
Grant numberGr. 10467
Approve DateApril 6, 2023
Project TitleHolowka, Nicholas (New York, Buffalo, State U. of) "The energetics and kinematics of forest walking in Batek foragers of Malaysia"
Hunting and gathering is a uniquely human subsistence strategy that requires long daily travel distances of 6-19 kilometers or more, leading to high foraging costs that have shaped the evolution human ecology. These costs are affordable thanks to our species’ highly economical form of bipedal walking. Lab-based studies have revealed many unique features of human walking that enable our exceptional economy, but most of this research involves subjects walking on flat surfaces that are unlike the irregular natural terrains that people from subsistence-level populations traverse while foraging. Recent studies indicate that humans significantly alter their walking kinematics on irregular surfaces, leading us to hypothesize that natural terrains increase walking costs, potentially making travel during foraging even more expensive than previously thought. We will test this hypothesis by measuring walking energetics and kinematics in participants from Batek hunter-gatherer communities in the Taman Negara Forest of Peninsular Malaysia. We will use portable respirometry and state-of-the-art wearable sensors to record three-dimensional kinematics in participants walking on forest terrains that are used during foraging. These data will connect walking kinematics to the energetics of foraging in natural environments and will provide new insight into bipedal adaptations that enable humans to navigate diverse, challenging terrains.