Michael D. Wasserman

Michael D. Wasserman
Indiana University Bloomington | IUB · Department of Anthropology

PhD, University of California, Berkeley

About

40
Publications
7,649
Reads
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1,049
Citations
Introduction
Michael D. Wasserman currently works at the Department of Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington. Michael does research in Biological Anthropology, Ecology and Endocrinology. Their current project is 'Assessing the effects of human activity related to sustainability and biodiversity conservation on tropical forests and primates '.
Additional affiliations
July 2016 - present
Indiana University Bloomington
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
August 2013 - present
Saint Edward's University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
September 2011 - August 2013
McGill University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
August 2004 - December 2011
University of California, Berkeley
Field of study
  • Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
August 1998 - May 2002
University of Florida
Field of study
  • Zoology
August 1998 - May 2002
University of Florida
Field of study
  • Anthropology

Publications

Publications (40)
Article
Full-text available
Numerous studies have examined the effects of anthropogenic endocrine disrupting compounds; however, very little is known about the effects of naturally occurring plant-produced estrogenic compounds (i.e., phytoestrogens) on vertebrates. To examine the seasonal pattern of phytoestrogen consumption and its relationship to hormone levels (407 fecal s...
Article
The habitats of wild primates are increasingly threatened by surrounding anthropogenic pressures, but little is known about primate exposure to frequently used chemicals. We applied a novel method to simultaneously measure 21 legacy pesticides (OCPs), 29 current use pesticides (CUPs), 47 halogenated flame retardants (HFRs), and 19 organophosphate f...
Article
Although biological systems are more complex and can actively respond to their environment, an effective entry point to the development of a universal theory of biological stress are the physical concepts of stress and strain. If you apply stress to the end of a beam of steel, strain will accumulate within that steel beam. If the stress is weak, th...
Article
Angiosperms have been essential components of primate diets for millions of years, but the relative importance of different angiosperm families remains unclear. Here, we assess the contribution and ecological and evolutionary significance of plant families to diets of wild primates by compiling an unprecedented dataset of almost 9000 dietary record...
Article
Hormone laboratories located “on-site” where field studies are being conducted have a number of advantages. On-site laboratories allow hormone analyses to proceed in near-real-time, minimize logistics of sample permits/shipping, contribute to in-country capacity-building, and (our focus here) facilitate cross-site collaboration through shared metho...
Article
Sixty years ago, Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring, which focused the world's attention on the dangers of pesticides. Since that time human impacts on the environment have accelerated and this has included reshaping the chemical landscape. Here we evaluate the severity of exposure of tropical terrestrial mammals to pesticides, pharmace...
Article
Full-text available
Common approaches to reverse the trend of tropical deforestation and loss of wildlife include systems of protected areas (PAs) such as national parks, payments for ecosystem services programs (PES) that provide financial reward to landowners protecting their forests, and ecotourism that attempts to increase local economic gains and protect biodiver...
Article
Full-text available
We used mitochondrial DNA to examine gene flow in a region of western Uganda that has received little attention regarding chimpanzee population dynamics. The area is critical to gene flow between isolated Democratic Republic of Congo populations and the rest of East Africa. None of the chimpanzees in each of the 4 protected areas under consideratio...
Article
Gut microbial communities communicate bidirectionally with the brain through endocrine, immune, and neural signaling, influencing the physiology and behavior of hosts. The emerging field of microbial endocrinology offers innovative perspectives and methods to analyze host-microbe relationships with relevance to primate ecology, evolution, and conse...
Article
Addressing global environmental problems requires collaborative international arrangements that incorporate the strengths of multiple partners with cultural, infrastructural, educational, and economic differences to produce more robust research and improved environmental outcomes. This can be especially important for research in the tropics given t...
Article
Protected areas have developed alongside intensive changes in land use and human settlements in the neighboring landscape. Here, we investigated the occurrence of 21 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), 14 current use pesticides (CUPs), 47 halogenated flame retardants (HFRs), and 19 organophosphate esters (OPEs) in air around Las Cruces (LC) and La Se...
Conference Paper
Maintaining gene flow between protected areas is more feasible than generating connectivity patterns. We used mitochondrial haplotype diversity in chimpanzees to examine patterns of gene flow, with special attention paid to chimpanzees living in the open-mosaic habitat of Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. We collected 80 samples and sequenced a 367-bp...
Article
Full-text available
Background: We present 3 likely cases of testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS) within a community of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). We tested whether genetic drift may be the culprit, as a genetic cause has been suspected to account for TDS among other wildlife. Methods: We successfully sequenced a 367-bp segment spanning the first h...
Poster
Full-text available
Background: We present 3 likely cases of testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS) within a community of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). We tested whether genetic drift may be the culprit, as a genetic cause has been suspected to account for TDS among other wildlife. Methods: We successfully sequenced a 367-bp segment spanning the first hy...
Article
Full-text available
Group size affects many aspects of the ecology and social organization of animals. We investigated group size stability for five primate species in Kibale National Park, Uganda from 1996 to 2011 at three nested spatial scales. Survey data indicated that group sizes did not change for most species, with the exception of red colobus monkeys (Procolob...
Chapter
Full-text available
Human modification of ecosystems is threatening biodiversity on a global scale. For example, it is estimated that, during the 1990s, 16 million ha of forest were lost globally each and every year, of which 15.2 million ha were tropical forest.
Article
Full-text available
Group size influences many aspects of mammalian social life, including stress levels, disease transmission, reproductive rates, and behavior. However, much of what is known about the effects of group size on behavioral ecology has come from comparisons across multiple groups of different sizes. These findings may be biased because behavioral differ...
Article
Full-text available
The foraging activity of many organisms reveal strategic movement patterns, showing efficient use of spatially distributed resources. The underlying mechanisms behind these movement patterns, such as the use of spatial memory, are topics of considerable debate. To augment existing evidence of spatial memory use in primates, we generated movement pa...
Article
Full-text available
Most primates depend heavily on plant foods; thus their chemical composition is key to understanding primate ecology and evolution. One class of plant compounds of strong current interest are phytoestrogens, which have the potential to alter fertility, fecundity, and survival. These plant compounds mimic the activity of vertebrate estrogens, result...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how human activities affect wild primates is critical to the design of effective conservation strategies. Despite this need, few studies have examined the physiological and behavioral effects of field research methods in the wild. Here, we examine how the stress response, i.e., fecal cortisol, and behavior of Ugandan red colobus monke...
Chapter
Full-text available
Given accelerating trends of deforestation and human population growth, immediate and innovative solutions to conserve biodiversity are sorely needed. Between 1995 and 2010, we regularly monitored the population size and structure of colobus monkey populations in the forest fragments outside of Kibale National Park, Uganda. Through this monitoring...
Chapter
Full-text available
In 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated that 16 million hectares of forest per year were lost globally in the 1990s (FAO 2010), and approximately 12.5 million hectares/year were lost in countries with primate populations, an area just smaller than Greece or the US State of Mississippi (Chapman and Peres...
Article
Phytoestrogens, or naturally occurring estrogen-mimicking compounds, are found in many human plant foods, such as soybeans (Glycine max) and other legumes. Because the consumption of phytoestrogens may result in both health benefits of protecting against estrogen-dependent cancers and reproductive costs of disrupting the developing endocrine system...
Article
Full-text available
Animals can play important roles in structuring the plant communities in which they live. Some species are particularly influential in that they modify the physical environment by changing, maintaining, and/or creating new habitats; the term ecosystem engineer has been used to describe such species. We here assess the two major foraging strategies...
Article
Physical traits, such as body size, and processes like growth can be used as indices of primate health and can add to our understanding of life history and behavior. Accurately measuring physical traits in the wild can be challenging because capture is difficult, disrupts animals, and may cause injury. To measure physical traits of arboreal primate...
Article
If stress and disease impose fitness costs, and if those costs vary as a function of group size, then stress and disease should exert selection pressures on group size. We assessed the relationships between group size, stress, and parasite infections across nine groups of red colobus monkeys (Procolobus rufomitratus) in Kibale National Park, Uganda...
Article
Identifying factors that influence animal density is a fundamental goal in ecology that has taken on new importance with the need to develop informed management plans. This is particularly the case for primates as the tropical forest that supports many species is being rapidly converted. We use a system of forest fragments adjacent to Kibale Nation...
Article
Summary 1. A fundamental ecological question is what determines the abundance of animals? Answering this question is vital in the formulation of effective management plans for endangered or threatened species. However, there are few general hypotheses proposed to account for variation in animal abundance. Studies of folivorous primates are a notabl...
Article
Full-text available
The processes of habitat loss and fragmentation are probably the most important threats to biodiversity. It is critical that we understand the conservation value of fragments, because they may represent opportunities to make important conservation gains, particularly for species whose ranges are not in a protected area. However, our ability to unde...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Tropical forests are one of the world's most important ecosystems, containing at least half of all species, regulating climate, purifying air and water, and providing resources for local communities. Nonetheless, over the past few decades widespread deforestation has significantly reduced the extent of tropical forests, leading to declines in wildlife populations that depend on them through habitat loss and fragmentation. Primate populations have been especially affected with more than 60% of all species considered vulnerable or endangered by the IUCN. Efforts to preserve the remaining forests and threatened species dependent on them have largely focused on creating protected areas, such as national parks. However, citizens often rely heavily on natural resources for subsistence and environmental laws are regularly breached in developing countries, thus weakening the effectiveness of protected areas. As a result, conservation policies have evolved from exclusionary protected areas to strategies that focus on local communities by providing economic and other incentives. Despite the increasing promotion of community-based alternatives by both scholars and practitioners, little evidence exists that they are any more effective than protected areas at maintaining forest quality or sustaining primate populations. Therefore, this NSF IRES research program has two main objectives: 1. To quantify how policies integrating conservation and development objectives, such as ecotourism, academic research activities, and multiple-use protected areas, influence tropical forests and their primates, as well as how effective these environmental policies are at maintaining human livelihoods. 2. To provide international field research experience to underrepresented students in the environmental sciences. To meet these objectives, student projects will examine differences in forest condition (e.g., fragment size, % canopy cover, carbon storage, diversity) and primate biology (i.e., physiology, behavior, population size) across a number of forests at and surrounding Las Cruces and La Selva Biological Stations in Costa Rica that are protected for various objectives (i.e., ecotourism, research, national conservation). Students will also examine the effects of these strategies on local community livelihoods and how this influences local perception of environmental policy. Specifically, 15 ten-week independent master's student research projects will occur across a three-year period to survey primate populations, quantify behavior, measure primate fecal hormone levels with immunoassays in country (an environmental endocrinology laboratory will be established in Costa Rica), conduct interviews and surveys of local landowners, other stakeholders, and tourists, and quantify forest characteristics. By examining interactions between people, parks, and primates through independent, yet interrelated, student projects, we will be able to provide a thorough analysis of the effectiveness of private ecotourism, public protected areas, and academic research stations to maintain livelihoods for human populations and promote conservation of biodiversity. Results from this project will add significantly to the knowledge of how economic, participatory, and research incentives can affect conservation decisions and outcomes. As a breakdown in either natural ecosystems or human society will negatively affect the other, quantifying the effectiveness of various environmental management strategies to maintain both biodiversity and local community livelihoods is necessary to ensure that these policies are actually promoting sustainability and conservation.