Dust in the wind: How climate variables and volcanic dust affect rates of tooth wear in Central American howling monkeys.
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OBJECTIVES: Two factors have been considered important contributors to tooth wear: dietary abrasives in plant foods themselves and mineral particles adhering to ingested food. Each factor limits the functional life of teeth. Cross-population studies of wear rates in a single species living in different habitats may point to the relative contributions of each factor. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We examine macroscopic dental wear in populations of Alouatta palliata (Gray, 1849) from Costa Rica (115 specimens), Panama (19), and Nicaragua (56). The sites differ in mean annual precipitation, with the Panamanian sites receiving more than twice the precipitation of those in Costa Rica or Nicaragua (∼3,500 mm vs. ∼1,500 mm). Additionally, many of the Nicaraguan specimens were collected downwind of active plinian volcanoes. Molar wear is expressed as the ratio of exposed dentin area to tooth area; premolar wear was scored using a ranking system. RESULTS: Despite substantial variation in environmental variables and the added presence of ash in some environments, molar wear rates do not differ significantly among the populations. Premolar wear, however, is greater in individuals collected downwind from active volcanoes compared with those living in environments that did not experience ash-fall. DISCUSSION: Volcanic ash seems to be an important contributor to anterior tooth wear but less so in molar wear. That wear is not found uniformly across the tooth row may be related to malformation in the premolars due to fluorosis. A surge of fluoride accompanying the volcanic ash may differentially affect the premolars as the molars fully mineralize early in the life of Alouatta.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Spradley, Jackson P, Kenneth E Glander and Richard F Kay (2016). Dust in the wind: How climate variables and volcanic dust affect rates of tooth wear in Central American howling monkeys. Am J Phys Anthropol, 159(2). pp. 210–222. 10.1002/ajpa.22877 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/10795.
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Primate ecology and social organization: the interaction between feeding patterns and social structure; evolutionary development of optimal group size and composition; factors affecting short and long-term demographic changes in stable groups; primate use of regenerating forests.
I have two areas of research:1) the evolution of primates in South America; and 2) the use of primate anatomy to reconstruct the phylogenetic history and adapations of living and extinct primates, especially Anthropoidea.
1) Evolution of primates and mammalian faunal evolution, especially in South America. For the past 30 years, I have been engaged in research in Argentina, Bolivia The Dominican Republic, Peru, and Colombia with three objectives:a) to reconstruct the evolutionary history and adaptive patterns of South America primates and other mammals; b) to establish a more precise geologic chronology for the mammalian faunas between the late Eocene and middle Miocene (between about 36 and about 15 million years ago); and c) to use anatomy and niche structure of modern mammals as a means to reconstruct the evolution of mammalian niche structure in the Neotropics.
2) Primate Anatomy. I am working to reconstruct the phylogeny of primates based (principally) on anatomical evidence; and to infer the adaptations of extinct primates based mainly on cranial and dental evidence.
Current fieldwork is focused on the study of terrestrial biotic change in Patagonia through the 'mid-Miocene Climate Optimum' when global climate was moderate and the subtropical zone, with primates and other typically tropical vertebrates, extended their ranges up to 55 degrees of South latitude.
In this collaborative research undertaking with colleagues at University of Washington and Boise State University, the geochronology of the Santa Cruz Formation at in extreme southern Argentina is being refined using radiometric dating. Stratigraphically-controlled collections have been made of vertebrates and plant macro- and microfossils. Climate change and its impact on the biota is assessed 1) using biogeochemical analysis of stable isotopes in fossil mammalian tooth enamel; 2) by documenting changes in mammalian community structure (richness, origination and extinction rates, and ecological morphology); and 3) by documenting changes in vegetation and floral composition through the study of phytoliths. These three independent lines of evidence in a refined geochronologic framework will then be compared with similar evidence from continental sequences in the Northern Hemisphere and oceanic climatic records to improve our understanding of the timing and character of climatic change in continental high latitudes during this temporal interval.
A second field project project in its early stages is the study of the fossil vertebrates of the Amazon Basin. The latter is a collaborative effort of biologists and geologists across schools at Duke (Nicholas School) and among six North American universities. My role is to direct the vertebrate paleontology component of this project in Brazil and Amazonian Peru. The hope is to recover primates from the Oligocene through Early Miocene. New material will shed light on the phylogenetic status of African Paleogene anthropoids, one of which may be the platyrrhine sister-taxon. Also, new remains of fossil primates will help to refine hypotheses about the origins of the modern families and subfamilies of platyrrhines, all of which trace back to an Early Miocene (17-21 Ma) common ancestor. Finally, new fossil primates may further constrain the time of entry of platyrrhines into South America.
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