Missouri News

NEMO anthropologist a frequent contributor on research regarding primates

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 30, 2017 10:20 pm

NEW LONDON, Mo. -- A Northeast Missouri woman is a frequent contributor to anthropological texts and was recently published in a scientific journal for her research on primates.

LeAndra Bridgeman, a service coordinator for North East Community Action Corp.'s Ralls County facility, received her doctorate in anthropology from Washington University in 2012 and has been doing research on how environment affects behavior since 2000.

Bridgeman has had her research findings published in the past, but most recently, she is one of 32 authors who contributed to the scientific report "Low Levels of Fruit Nitrogen as Drivers for the Evolution of Madagascar's Primate Communities," which was published Oct. 31 in the scientific journal Nature.

Publishing the report has taken a few years due to revisions and finding the right journal, Bridgeman said.

The report is an analysis of plants eaten by primates in Madagascar and other places. Research Bridgeman did on howler monkeys in Mexico in 2010 was included with research.

"Nitrogen gets converted into different organic compounds, including amino acids and proteins, which are important for digestion," Bridgeman said. "Fruits in Madagascar contained less nitrogen than fruits in the Americas and Africa and Asia. So, the research (in the scientific report) supports the hypothesis that lemurs, birds, bats and other fruit-eating animals in Madagascar are limited in where they get their nitrogen. Therefore, they eat other things to get nitrogen."

Bridgeman joined NECAC in April 2015 after her husband, Scott, retired from the U.S. Air Force. Although Bridgeman is a native of Texas, her husband is from Canton, Mo., and the couple moved to Northeast Missouri.

"There weren't a lot of (anthropology) teaching options here, so I turned to my second passion, which is volunteering and working with nonprofits," she said. "I love helping people and being involved in the community."

Although she now works at NECAC and with various other organizations in the community, Bridgeman still contributes to anthropological texts. Some of her research will be included in a book to be published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press.

"I've been working on that, so I'm excited for that to come out next year," she said.

Bridgeman has been an anthropology professor at Washington University, an instructor in primate behavior and ecology in Costa Rica and was an author and editor for W.W. Norton & Company on an anthropology textbook.

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