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Human Life History

Sylvia Kirchengast

In this working group we are interested in the biological characteristics defining Homo sapiens as a unique species - in the evolutionary origin, the processes, and the products of these features. As none of these can be explained exhaustively in the context of physical anthropology alone, we operate at intersection of bio-anthropology, human behavior, social anthropology, reproductive and behavioral ecology and Darwinian Medicine. From here we study selected causes (e.g., socio-cultural, economic, ecological, hormonal) of the modern human physical variation as well as their (behavioral and psychological) effects. In particular proximate determinants of these linkages and their long-term significance for reproduction, nutrition, health, disease and mortality are focused on.

Our samples are mainly drawn from recent but also from historical populations. For quantification, we mainly apply various methods of somatometrics, and the Geometric Morphometric toolkit.

This composition of research topics leads to eight subject areas, which essentially and necessarily overlap:

  • growth and development

    Kirchengast S (2010) Gender differences in body composition from childhood to old age: an evolutionary point of view. Journal of Life Sciences 2: 1-10

  • obesity and body composition

    Kirchengast S & Schober E (2008) Obesity among male adolescent migrants in Vienna, Austria. Human Biology and Economics 6: 204-211

    Kirchengast S & Schober E (2006) Migrant status represents a special risk factor for developing overweight and obesity among female children and adolescents. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 113: 1188-1194

  • sexual dimorphism

    Kirchengast S & Hauser G (2003) Sex differences in Body composition and weight status in old age.  XXvsXY The International Journal of Sex Differences in the Study of Health and Disease in Aging 1: 9-15

  • life history

    Kilaf E, Kirchengast S (2008): Menopause between nature and culture - menopausal age and climacteric symptoms among Turkish immigrant women in Vienna, Austria.  Acta Medica Lithuanica 15: 2-8

    Kirchengast S (2009) Teenage-pregnancies - a biomedical and a sociocultural approach to a current problem. Current Womens Health Issues 5: 1-7

  • ageing

    Kirchengast S, Haslinger B (2008) Gender differences in health related quality of life among aged and old aged people from Austria. Gender Medicine 5: 270-278

  • reproductive and behavioral ecology

    Kirchengast S & Huber J (2004)  Body composition characteristics and fat distribution patterns in young infertile women. Fertility Sterility 81: 539-544

    Kirchengast S & Hartmann B (2003) The impact of maternal age and maternal somatic characteristics on newborn size. American Journal of Human Biology 15: 220-228

    Kirchengast S & Huber J (2001) Fat distribution in young amenorrheic females. Human Nature 12: 123-140

    Kirchengast S & Huber J (2001) Body composition characteristics and body fat distribution in lean and overweight women with polycystic ovaries syndrome. Human Reproduction 16: 1255-1260

Department of Anthropology,
University of Vienna,
Althanstraße 14
1090 Vienna
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