Published: March 15, 2017

Michelle Sauther has won a $245K NSF grant for her research on “Extreme Primates: Physiological and Behavioral Responses to a Temperate Primate Niche Using a Strepsirrhine Model.” M.L. Sauther, Frank P. Cuozzo.  It is perhaps a truism to state that primates are tropical mammals, but of the more than 500+ extant primate species, only a handful inhabit temperate environs. Unlike humans, who use cultural adaptations to inhabit these more challenging habitats, temperate primates must cope with seasonal periods of cold temperatures and even snow and strong seasonal changes in food availability, but how they do this has not been adequately studied. This study uses state of the art, non-invasive techniques to expand our understanding of wild primate physiology, metabolism and behavioral adaptations to environmental stressors not normally encountered within tropical habitats. Results will inform our understanding of primate thermoregulatory plasticity and the selective advantages of body size in more seasonal habitats. It will also provide new perspectives regarding primate paleobiology and why certain body sizes may be more likely starting point for past primate radiations.