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Ashley N. Edes, Ph.D.

George E. Burch Postdoctoral Fellow
B.S., Ohio University; M.S.T., Wright State University; Ph.D., The Ohio State University

Ashley Edes is a George E. Burch postdoctoral fellow for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Edes studies welfare and health in great apes in zoos, including chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas. In particular, Edes' focus is on developing endocrinology methods for assessing current physiological dysregulation, which is known to lead to poor health outcomes, such as chronic disease and shortened lifespan. Through her research, Edes is striving to create a holistic, whole-organism theoretical framework and methodology for addressing questions related to stress, health, welfare and conservation.

For her Ph.D. research, Edes investigated the use of allostatic load indices as a method for studying physiological dysregulation in zoo-housed western lowland gorillas. Edes’ work represents the first time an allostatic load index was applied to a nonhuman species. She identified several factors that predict greater physiological impairment in gorillas, such as age, experiencing potentially stressful events and early life adversity. In turn, Edes also found that higher allostatic load was associated with higher levels of biomarkers which may indicate morbidity, such as triglycerides, the presence of at least one chronic degenerative condition, and mortality risk. Edes’ work now continues in chimpanzees and bonobos in zoos across the United States. In addition to physiology, she is investigating how behavior and social relationships can exacerbate or attenuate physiological dysregulation and later life health outcomes in all three African ape species.

In recognition of her contributions to zoo animal welfare research, Edes was awarded the Primate Welfare Award in 2016 by the American Society of Primatologists Primate Care Committee. Her 2017 review of allostatic load theory and methodology is one of the top 20 most downloaded papers from the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 2017 and 2018. Edes has also received awards in teaching in 2016 from The Ohio State University and for a conference presentation in 2018 by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. She began serving as a member of the Primate Care Committee in the American Society of Primatologists in 2017, and is a member of several professional organizations, including the Animal Behavior Society, American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, International Primatological Society, International Society for Wildlife Endocrinology, and Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Edes earned her PhD in biological anthropology, with a focus on primatology, from The Ohio State University in 2018. Prior to starting her Ph.D., Edes taught high school biology for five years. Teaching both at the high school and college levels has contributed to her passion for working with students and other members of the public through outreach and educational opportunities.
Recent Publications: 

Edes AN, Wolfe BA, Crews DE. 2018. Evaluating allostatic load: A new approach to measuring long-term stress in wildlife. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 49(2):272-282. doi: 10.1638/2016-0070.1

Edes AN, Wolfe BA, Crews DE. 2018. The first multi-zoo application of an allostatic load index to western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 266:135-149. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.05.006

Edes AN, Crews DE. 2017. Allostatic load and biological anthropology. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 162:44-70. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23146