Overview of FEED, the feeding experiments end-user database.


The Feeding Experiments End-user Database (FEED) is a research tool developed by the Mammalian Feeding Working Group at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center that permits synthetic, evolutionary analyses of the physiology of mammalian feeding. The tasks of the Working Group are to compile physiologic data sets into a uniform digital format stored at a central source, develop a standardized terminology for describing and organizing the data, and carry out a set of novel analyses using FEED. FEED contains raw physiologic data linked to extensive metadata. It serves as an archive for a large number of existing data sets and a repository for future data sets. The metadata are stored as text and images that describe experimental protocols, research subjects, and anatomical information. The metadata incorporate controlled vocabularies to allow consistent use of the terms used to describe and organize the physiologic data. The planned analyses address long-standing questions concerning the phylogenetic distribution of phenotypes involving muscle anatomy and feeding physiology among mammals, the presence and nature of motor pattern conservation in the mammalian feeding muscles, and the extent to which suckling constrains the evolution of feeding behavior in adult mammals. We expect FEED to be a growing digital archive that will facilitate new research into understanding the evolution of feeding anatomy.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Wall, Christine E, Christopher J Vinyard, Susan H Williams, Vladimir Gapeyev, Xianhua Liu, Hilmar Lapp and Rebecca Z German (2011). Overview of FEED, the feeding experiments end-user database. Integr Comp Biol, 51(2). pp. 215–223. 10.1093/icb/icr047 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/10195.

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Christine Elizabeth Wall

Research Professor Emerita of Evolutionary Anthropology

The focus of my work is the functional and evolutionary anatomy of the head, with an emphasis on how the feeding apparatus works and how it influences and is influenced by other structures and functions. My research focuses primarily on the functional anatomy of extant and extinct primates, but I am also interested in other mammalian groups.

Current research projects include:

(1) a detailed study of the architecture, fiber types, and the recruitment patterns of the jaw adductor muscles of priamtes. The goals are to determine the nature of the general relationship between architecture (e.g., cross-sectional area) and fiber type for the jaw adductors, to find out whether the jaw adductors are sexually dimorphic in these anthropoid primates, to test for co-variation with dietary adaptation, and to develop biomechanical models to describe this relationship and relate it to size, function, and energetic requirements;

(2) investigations of the energetic costs of feeding behaviors in humans and nonhuman primates. The goal of this work is to better understand the relationship between the functional anatomy of the feeding apparatus and the metabolic costs that an animal incurs during feeding.

(3) development of a public database - the Feeding Experiments End-user Database (FEED, www.feedexp.org) in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca German (Johns Hopkins), Dr. Susan Williams (Ohio Univ.), Dr. Chris Vinyard (NEOUCOM), and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. This database includes physiological data from a large number of mammalian species collected by numerous researchers. Its design will allow synthetic and integrative analyses of the evolution of the oropharyngeal apparatus and feeding behaviors in mammals. The public instance of FEED is available at https://feedexp.org/  We are also developing new analytical tools for inter-specific comparisons of raw electromyographic recordings that can be used to process data in FEED.

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