Long-term Sabbatical

Preservation and analysis of 45 years of prosimian primate data from the Duke Lemur Center

PI(s): Sarah Zehr (Duke Lemur Center)
Start Date: 3-Feb-2012

Life, death, disease, fecundity -- these are the qualities of an organism’s life that govern its evolutionary fitness and adaptation to its environment. Consequently, the rules that regulate these traits are of interest to biologists as far afield as ecology and drug discovery. Long-term datasets that track these characteristics are therefore of enduring worth to an enormous spectrum of researchers. Since its establishment in 1966, the Duke Lemur Center has accumulated detailed records for nearly 4000 individuals from 31 prosimian primate species. There is a dire need for preservation of these invaluable data, which currently exist in a variety of inaccessible formats. The aim of this proposal is to create an analyzable, computerized version of categorical DLC data, including birth, death, sex, cause of death, dam, sire, pedigree, and lifelong weight records for all individuals. I will use the resulting dataset to generate species-specific profiles including age at first and last reproduction, litter size and frequency, breeding season, sex ratios at birth and other milestones, sex-specific longevity, growth rates, birth weights, and adult body weights. I will examine these parameters in order to test hypotheses of sex allocation and growth within and among species to differentiate between the effects of shared life history characteristics and underlying phylogenetic relationships. The primary data will be made available for public use and they, in combination with affiliated biological samples banked for over 1000 of these individuals, will support a virtually limitless number of future research projects across a vast span of biological disciplines.

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