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Dr. Stephen King

ABOUT:
I am a biological anthropologist broadly interested in ontogeny and the evolved life history strategies of primates, particularly Malagasy lemurs, both living and extinct. My current research centers primarily on late ontogeny—on old age and senescence—in wild populations of nonhuman primates. Because much of the evolutionary research on aging has focused on human menopause and post-reproductive life, studies of senescence in primates also tend to emphasize the aging reproductive system. But in addition to reproductive senescence I am interested in whether and when other body systems senesce in primates, and whether there are fitness consequences of such senescing systems. For example, my colleagues and I employed dental topographic analysis using GIS to identify “dental senescence” in Propithecus edwardsi whereby dental function becomes severely compromised in old females even while their fertility remains unaffected. We show that the decline of dental function leads to decreased infant survival. Thus dental wear, but not decreased fertility, is a factor limiting the lifetime reproductive success of individual sifaka females, suggesting that tooth structure may be under strong selective pressure. My research explores the potential senescence of the dentition and other body systems in multiple lemur species including the tiny mouse lemur, Microcebus rufus . My goal is to provide a primate context in which to evaluate the postulated uniqueness of human aging.

 

 

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

RESEARCH/PROJECT LINKS:

Subfossil Lemurs
• Dental Collection

CONTACT: sking@anthro.umass.edu

Contact Information:
Department of Anthropology
240 Hicks Way

Laboratories:
Machmer Hall W-12, W14, W16
(W-16) 413-545-380
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