Doctoral Dissertation Research: Maternal predictors of infant developmental trajectories in olive baboons

Project: Research project

Description

Early life experiences can have substantial influence on development and adult outcomes. The mother is a crucial component of the early life environment for humans and other primates. This project will investigate the influence of maternal glucocorticoid (GC) and behavioral signals on infant growth, behavior, and physiology in wild olive baboons (Papio anubis). Specifically, we will address three questions: What predicts variation in maternal signals? How do infants respond to maternal signals? How do infants navigate developmental trade-offs? The study will examine 40 mother-infant pairs of baboons over a 14-month period in Laikipia, Kenya. The study site provides the opportunity to compare animals that rely heavily on invasive Opuntia stricta fruits and animals that have limited access to these fruits. For groups that range in areas where O. stricta is common, its fruit has become an important component of the baboons diet, and reduced seasonal variability in food availability. The study will use photogrammetry to measure body size and growth trajectories, fecal samples to measure GC levels, and focal samples to obtain detailed information about nursing behavior, activity levels, and maternal responsiveness.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date9/15/178/31/19

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $20,399.00

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earning a doctorate
infant
animal
physiology
Kenya
nursing
food
experience
Group