Amanda D Melin

Amanda D Melin
The University of Calgary | HBI · Department of Anthropology and Archaeology

Ph.D.

About

133
Publications
35,431
Reads
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2,274
Citations
Introduction
I am a Biological Anthropologist and Evolutionary Ecologist interested in the relationships between sensory and foraging ecology and their roles in human and nonhuman primate evolution and adaptation. My philosophy is integrative, involving molecular ecology, field observations and isotopic analyses
Additional affiliations
January 2016 - present
The University of Calgary
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
January 2014 - December 2015
Washington University in St. Louis
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
June 2011 - December 2013
Dartmouth College
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
January 2006 - June 2011
The University of Calgary
Field of study
  • Anthropology - Biological Anthropology
September 2003 - December 2005
The University of Calgary
Field of study
  • Anthropology-Primatology
September 1998 - June 2003
The University of Calgary
Field of study
  • Biological Sciences- Zoology

Publications

Publications (133)
Article
Full-text available
Intraspecific color vision variation is prevalent among nearly all diurnal monkeys in the neotropics and is seemingly a textbook case of balancing selection acting to maintain genetic polymorphism. Clear foraging advantages to monkeys with trichromatic vision over those with dichromatic "red-green colorblind" vision have been observed in captive st...
Article
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Debate on the adaptive origins of primates has long focused on the functional ecology of the primate visual system. For example, it is hypothesized that variable expression of short- (SWS1) and middle-to-long-wavelength sensitive (M/LWS) opsins, which confer color vision, can be used to infer ancestral activity patterns and therefore selective ecol...
Article
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Primates possess remarkably variable color vision, and the ecological and social factors shaping this variation remain heavily debated. Here, we test whether central tenants of the folivory hypothesis of routine trichromacy hold for the foraging ecology of howler monkeys. Howler monkeys (genus Alouatta) and paleotropical primates (Parvorder: Catarr...
Article
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The century-old idea that stripes make zebras cryptic to large carnivores has never been examined systematically. We evaluated this hypothesis by passing digital images of zebras through species-specific spatial and colour filters to simulate their appearance for the visual systems of zebras’ primary predators and zebras themselves. We also measure...
Article
The parallel evolution of increased sensorimotor intelligence in humans and capuchins has been linked to the cognitive and manual demands of seasonal extractive faunivory. This hypothesis is attractive on theoretical grounds, but it has eluded widespread acceptance due to lack of empirical data. For instance, the effects of seasonality on the extra...
Article
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Senses form the interface between animals and environments, and provide a window into the ecology of past and present species. However, research on sensory behaviours by wild frugivores is sparse. Here, we examine fruit assessment by three sympatric primates ( Alouatta palliata , Ateles geoffroyi and Cebus imitator ) to test the hypothesis that die...
Preprint
Purpose Rhesus macaques ( Macaca mulatta ) are the premier nonhuman primate model for studying human health and disease. We aimed to investigate if age was associated with ocular features of clinical relevance in a large cohort of free-ranging rhesus macaques from Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. Methods We evaluated 120 rhesus macaques (73 males, 47 f...
Article
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A defining feature of catarrhine primates is uniform trichromacy – the ability to distinguish red (long; L), green (medium; M), and blue (short; S) wavelengths of light. While the tuning of photoreceptors is conserved, the ratio of L:M cones in the retina is variable within and between species, with human cone ratios differing from other catarrhine...
Article
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Primates have adapted to numerous environments and lifestyles but very few species are native to high elevations. Here we investigated high-altitude adaptations in the gelada (Theropithecus gelada), a monkey endemic to the Ethiopian Plateau. We examined genome-wide variation in conjunction with measurements of haematological and morphological trait...
Article
Mitochondrial DNA remains a cornerstone for molecular ecology, especially for study species from which high‐quality tissue samples cannot be easily obtained. Methods using mitochondrial markers are usually reliant on reference databases, but these are often incomplete. Furthermore, available mitochondrial genomes often lack crucial metadata, such a...
Article
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Aeroscapes—dynamic patterns of air speed and direction—form a critical component of landscape ecology by shaping numerous animal behaviors, including movement, foraging, and social and/or reproductive interactions. Aeroecology is particularly critical for sensory ecology: air is the medium through which many sensory signals and cues propagate, inhe...
Article
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Capuchins are platyrrhines (monkeys found in the Americas) within the Cebidae family. For most of their taxonomic history, the two main morphological types of capuchins, gracile (untufted) and robust (tufted), were assigned to a single genus, Cebus. Further, all tufted capuchins were assigned to a single species, Cebus apella, despite broad geograp...
Article
In most of our lifetimes, we have not faced a global pandemic such as the novel coronavirus disease 2019. The world has changed as a result. However, it is not only humans who are affected by a pandemic of this scale. Our closest relatives, the non-human primates (NHPs) who encounter researchers, sanctuary/zoo employees, and tourists, are also pote...
Conference Paper
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OR gene family is comprised of hundreds of intact and disrupted genes. Compositional difference of intact/disrupted genes among individuals causes olfactory variation. We examined genetic variation of 554 OR genes and 85 neutral regions in 69 Japanese individuals. These sequences were enriched by targeted capture and were subjected to massive paral...
Article
Understanding variation in social grouping patterns among animal taxa is an enduring goal of ethologists, who seek to evaluate the selective pressures shaping the evolution of sociality. Cohesive association with conspecifics increases intragroup feeding competition and may impose constraints on group size. Furthermore, in sexually dimorphic specie...
Article
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For female mammals, communicating the timing of ovulation is essential for reproduction. Olfactory communication via volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can play a key role. We investigated urinary VOCs across the oestrous cycle using laboratory mice. We assessed the oestrous stage through daily vaginal cytology and analysed urinary VOCs using headsp...
Preprint
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Survival at high altitude requires adapting to extreme conditions such as environmental hypoxia. To understand high-altitude adaptations in a primate, we assembled the genome of the gelada (Theropithecus gelada), an endemic Ethiopian monkey, and complemented it with population resequencing, hematological, and morphometric data. Unexpectedly, we ide...
Article
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Taste perception plays an essential role in food selection. Umami (savory) tastes are sensed by a taste receptor complex, T1R1/T1R3, that detects proteinogenic amino acids.1 High sensitivity to l-glutamate (l-Glu) is a characteristic of human T1R1/T1R3, but the T1R1/T1R3 of other vertebrates does not consistently show this l-Glu response.1,2 Here,...
Article
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The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is an important gene complex contributing to adaptive immunity. Studies of platyrrhine MHC have focused on identifying experimental models of immune system function in the equivalent Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA). These genes have thus been explored primarily in captive platyrrhine individuals from researc...
Preprint
Energy demands associated with pregnancy and lactation are significant forces in mammalian evolution. To mitigate increased energy costs associated with reproduction, female mammals have evolved behavioral and physiological responses. Some species alter activity to conserve energy during pregnancy and lactation, while others experience changes in m...
Article
The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which in humans leads to the disease COVID-19, has caused global disruption and more than 2 million fatalities since it first emerged in late 2019. As we write, infection rates are at their highest point globally and are rising extremely rapidly in some areas due to more infectious variants. The primary target of S...
Article
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Background An individual’s microbiome changes over the course of its lifetime, especially during infancy, and again in old age. Confounding factors such as diet and healthcare make it difficult to disentangle the interactions between age, health, and microbial changes in humans. Animal models present an excellent opportunity to study age- and sex-l...
Article
The polymorphic color vision system present in most North, Central, and South American monkeys is a textbook case of balancing selection, yet the mechanism behind it remains poorly understood. Previous work has established task-specific foraging advantages to different color vision phenotypes: dichromats (red-green colorblind) are more efficient fo...
Article
Objectives Although fermented food use is ubiquitous in humans, the ecological and evolutionary factors contributing to its emergence are unclear. Here we investigated the ecological contexts surrounding the consumption of fruits in the late stages of fermentation by wild primates to provide insight into its adaptive function. We hypothesized that...
Article
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Significance Surviving challenging environments, living long lives, and engaging in complex cognitive processes are hallmark human characteristics. Similar traits have evolved in parallel in capuchin monkeys, but their genetic underpinnings remain unexplored. We developed and annotated a reference assembly for white-faced capuchin monkeys to explor...
Article
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Chemosignals are mediators of social interactions in mammals, providing con‐ and hetero‐specifics with information on fixed (e.g., species, sex, group, and individual identity) and variable (e.g., social, reproductive, and health status) features of the signaler. Yet, methodological difficulties of recording and quantifying odor signals, especially...
Preprint
Full-text available
The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which in humans leads to the disease COVID-19, has caused global disruption and more than 1.5 million fatalities since it first emerged in late 2019. As we write, infection rates are currently at their highest point globally and are rising extremely rapidly in some areas due to more infectious variants. The primary...
Preprint
Chemosignals are mediators of social interactions in mammals, providing con- and hetero-specifics with information on fixed (e.g. species, sex, group and individual identity) and variable (e.g. social, reproductive and health status) features of the signaler. Yet methodological difficulties of recording and quantifying odor signals, especially in f...
Article
Research on non-human primates in the endangered tropical dry forest of Sector Santa Rosa (SSR), Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG), was launched in 1983 and is now one of the longest running studies of primates globally. Such continuous study provides a rare opportunity to ask questions that are only answerable through decades-long monitoring o...
Article
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The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has caused over a million human deaths and massive global disruption. The viral infection may also represent a threat to our closest living relatives, nonhuman primates. The contact surface of the host cell receptor, ACE2, displays amino acid residues that are critical for virus recognition, and variations at these criti...
Article
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Cannibalism has been observed in a variety of animal taxa; however, it is relatively uncommon in primates. Thus, we rely heavily on case reports of this behavior to advance our understanding of the contexts under which it occurs. Here, we report the first observation of cannibalism in a group of wild white‐faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus imitator). T...
Article
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Howler monkeys (platyrrhini) have evolved routine trichromatic color vision independently from catarrhines, which presents an opportunity to test hypotheses concerning the adaptive value of distinguishing reddish from greenish hues. A longstanding hypothesis posits that trichromacy aids in the efficient detection of reddish‐ripe fruits, which could...
Article
The adaptive origins of primates and anthropoid primates are topics of enduring interest to biological anthropologists. A convention in these discussions is to treat the light environment as binary—night is dark, day is light—and to impute corresponding selective pressure on the visual systems and behaviors of primates. In consequence, debate has t...
Article
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With expanding anthropogenic disturbances to forests around the world, forest restoration is increasingly important for bird conservation. Restoration monitoring is critical for understanding how birds respond to forest regeneration and for assessing the effectiveness of restoration efforts. Using bioacoustic monitoring, we recorded bird communitie...
Article
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Extreme climate events can have important consequences for the dynamics of natural populations, and severe droughts are predicted to become more common and intense due to climate change. We analysed infant mortality in relation to drought in two primate species (white-faced capuchins, Cebus capucinus imitator, and Geoffroy's spider monkeys, Ateles...
Article
Humans have a long evolutionary relationship with ethanol, pre-dating anthropogenic sources, and possess unusually efficient ethanol metabolism, through a mutation that evolved in our last common ancestor with African great apes. Increased exposure to dietary ethanol through fermenting fruits and nectars is hypothesized to have selected for this in...
Article
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Mouse kidney parvovirus (MKPV) is a member of the provisional genus Chapparvovirus that causes renal disease in immune-compromised mice, with a disease course reminiscent of polyomavirus-associated nephropathy in immune-suppressed kidney transplant patients. Here we map four major MKPV transcripts, created by alternative splicing, to a common initi...
Article
A key goal in behavioral ecology is to investigate the factors influencing the access to food resources and energetic condition of females, which are strong predictors of their reproductive success. We aimed to investigate how ecological factors, social factors, and reproductive state are associated with energetic condition in a wild neotropical pr...
Article
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Like catarrhines, some platyrrhines show exposed and reddish skin, raising the possibility that reddish signals have evolved convergently. This variation in skin exposure and color combined with sex‐linked polymorphic color vision in platyrrhines presents a unique, and yet underexplored, opportunity to investigate the relative importance of chromat...
Preprint
Full-text available
Mouse kidney parvovirus (MKPV) is a member of the provisional Chapparvovirus genus that causes renal disease in immune-compromised mice, with a disease course reminiscent of polyomavirus-associated nephropathy in immune-suppressed kidney transplant patients. Here we map four MKPV transcripts, created by alternative splicing, to a common transcripti...
Article
Objectives: Invertebrates are important foods for many primates and provide valuable nutrients often unavailable from plant sources. We examine the diet of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus imitator) to determine: (a) timing and types of invertebrate food consumption; (b) whether invertebrate consumption varies with availability of plant food...
Article
Full-text available
The senses play critical roles in helping animals evaluate foods, including fruits that can change both in colour and scent during ripening to attract frugivores. Although numerous studies have assessed the impact of colour on fruit selection, comparatively little is known about fruit scent and how olfactory and visual data are integrated during fo...
Preprint
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Background Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin used in anti-predator defense by several aquatic species, including the rough-skinned newt, Taricha granulosa . While several possible biological sources of newt TTX have been investigated, mounting evidence suggests a genetic, endogenous origin. We present here a de novo transcriptome assembly a...
Article
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The horizontal transmission of pathogenic and beneficial microbes has implications for health and development of socially living animals. Social group is repeatedly implicated as an important predictor of gut microbiome structure among primates, with individuals in neighboring social groups exhibiting distinct microbiomes. Here we examine whether g...
Article
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Treeshrews are small, squirrel-like mammals in the order Scandentia, which is nested together with Primates and Dermoptera in the superordinal group Euarchonta. They are often described as living fossils, and researchers have long turned to treeshrews as a model or ecological analogue for ancestral primates. A comparative study of colour vision-enc...
Article
Unveiling patterns of genetic variation in parasite-host associations: an example with pinworms and Neotropical primates – CORRIGENDUM - Brenda Solórzano-García, Amanda D. Melin, Filippo Aureli, Gerardo Pérez-Ponce de León
Article
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Platy-1 elements are Platyrrhine-specific, short interspersed elements originally discovered in the Callithrix jacchus (common marmoset) genome. To date, only the marmoset genome has been analyzed for Platy-1 repeat content. Here, we report full-length Platy-1 insertions in other New World monkey (NWM) genomes (Saimiri boliviensis, squirrel monkey;...
Article
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Vertebrate color vision is an ideal system for studying the gains and losses of genetic variation across lineages and impacts on behavior. Among placental mammals, trichromatic vision is unique to primates and is argued to be adaptive for foraging on reddish food. However, trichromacy is variably present in lemurs, including species within the cath...
Article
Patterns of genetic variation among populations can reveal the evolutionary history of species. Pinworm parasites are highly host specific and form strong co-evolutionary associations with their primate hosts. Here, we describe the genetic variation observed in four Trypanoxyuris species infecting different howler and spider monkey subspecies in Ce...
Article
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Bats are a diverse radiation of mammals of enduring interest for understanding the evolution of sensory specialization. Colour vision variation among species has previously been linked to roosting preferences and echolocation form in the suborder Yinpterochiroptera, yet questions remain about the roles of diet and habitat in shaping bat visual ecol...
Article
The ecological function of fruit colour has been the focus of many studies. The most commonly tested hypothesis is that fruit colour has evolved to facilitate detection by seed-dispersing animals. We tested whether distributions of fruit colours are consistent with the hypothesis that colour is an evolved signal to seed dispersers using a comparati...
Article
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Research on the gut microbiota of free-ranging mammals is offering new insights into dietary ecology. However, for free-ranging primates, little information is available for how microbiomes are influenced by ecological variation through time. Primates inhabiting seasonal tropical dry forests undergo seasonally specific decreases in food abundance a...
Article
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Many plants use colour to attract pollinators, which often possess colour vision systems well-suited for detecting flowers. Yet, to isolate the role of colour is difficult, as flowers also produce other cues. The study of florivory by Neotropical primates possessing polymorphic colour vision provides an opportunity to investigate the importance of...
Preprint
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Ecological flexibility, extended lifespans, and large brains, have long intrigued evolutionary biologists, and comparative genomics offers an efficient and effective tool for generating new insights into the evolution of such traits. Studies of capuchin monkeys are particularly well situated to shed light on the selective pressures and genetic unde...
Preprint
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Our contribution to a Festschrift in honour of Linda Fedigan. Will appear In: Primate Life Histories, Sex Roles, and Adaptability - Essays in Honour of Linda M. Fedigan. Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects. Kalbitzer U, Jack KM (eds) Springer, New York, NY. Studies of wild animals reveal how foraging activities unfold in natural co...
Chapter
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Understanding primate diet plasticity and what causes foraging variation is crucial to understanding their ecology and evolution. Foraging choices are limited by food availability, and primate diets may shift within and between years. How primates respond to interannual variation and the extent of their dietary flexibility are poorly known. White-f...