William Éamon Callison
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationHarvard U.
Grant numberGr. 9805
Approve DateApril 29, 2019
Project TitleCallison, William (Harvard U.) "Ventilatory Adaptations in Peru: How does thoracic ventilation change in response to high altitude?"
Humans differ from apes in being adapted for endurance activities, like long-distance running, that require increasing oxygen intake as much as 40-fold. How does the human thorax contribute to these impressive capabilities and does increased oxygen demand change how we use our chests to breathe? Individuals living at different elevations with different ancestral adaptations to altitude provide an ideal natural experiment for testing hypotheses about the effects of environment and population-level adaptations on thoracic ventilation. Using new kinematic methods we have developed, this study will measure rib motion in Quechua populations born and living at different altitudes to experimentally test three hypotheses: people at high altitude inspire with increased thoracic ventilation relative to diaphragmatic ventilation; growing up in low-oxygen environments increases chest dimensions and increases thoracic ventilation; and, population adaptations to high altitude increase chest dimensions and increase thoracic ventilation. Our results will advance understanding of how chest shape and rib movements together increase respiratory capacity and will be the first to measure rib kinematics in the field. Furthermore, this project will shed light on how increased oxygen demand during aerobically demanding activities such as endurance running might have shaped the form and function of the human thorax.