Nayuta Yamashita

research interests:

My interests lie in primate diet and feeding behaviors, specifically in the foraging cues that primates use to procure food. I study a group of prosimians called lemurs that are endemic to the island of Madagascar. Because of their independent evolution on Madagascar, lemurs have radiated to fill many niches with corresponding adaptive variation.

My ongoing research is focused on how differences in food properties can affect food choice and how this has can separate sympatric primate species. Mechanical properties of foods (among many other properties) can impose constraints on potential primate predators that allow animals with the necessary morphology or sensory apparatus to take advantage of certain foods that are unavailable to others. I am interested in both how plants defend themselves against herbivory and how primates overcome plant defenses. I have investigated the relationship between tooth morphology and mechanical food properties and found correlated variation between them. My current research has broadened to include other food properties, color and nutrients, to examine the multi-faceted question of how primates make feeding decisions.