Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology.
University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.
B.A. Biology. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.

Email: katherine.amato(at)

Phone: 847-467-5890
Office: 1810 Hinman Ave., Rm A 62.



My research focuses on the dynamics between mutualistic gut microbial communities and their hosts. I am particularly interested in understanding how changes in the gut microbiota impact human nutrition and health in populations around the world, especially those with limited access to nutritional resources. I also use non-human primates as models for studying host-gut microbe interactions in selective environments and to determine whether the human gut microbiota has characteristics that are unique among primates. My current research focuses on microbial contributions to host nutrition during periods of reduced food availability (e.g. seasonality) or increased nutritional demands (e.g. pregnancy), as well as microbial influences on brain growth. To date, most of my fieldwork has been with non-human primates in southeastern Mexico, but I am currently establishing projects with both humans and non-human primates in other parts of the world. For more information please see my personal website.



  1. Amato K.R., S. Van Belle, A. Di Fiore, A. Estrada, R.M. Stumpf, B. White, K.E. Nelson, R. Knight, S.R. Leigh 2017). Patterns in gut microbiota similarity associated with degree of sociality among sex classes of a Neotropical primate. Microbial Ecology. 74(1): 250-258. doi:10.1007/s00248-017-0938-6

  2. Amato, K.R., A. Ulanov, K.S. Ju, P.A. Garber. (2017) Metabolomic data suggest regulation of black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) diet composition at the molecular level. American Journal of Primatology. 79(4): 1-10.

  3. Estrada, A., P.A. Garber, A.B. Rylands, C. Roos, E. Fernandez-Duqe, A. Di Fiore, K.A. Isola Nekaris, V. Nijman, E.W. Heymann, J.E. Lambert, F. Rovero, C. Barelli, J.M. Setchell, T.R. Gillespie, R.A. Mittermeier, L.V. Arregoitia, M. de Guinea, S. Gouveia, R. Dobrovolski, S. Shanee, N. Shanee, S.A. Boyle, A. Fuentes, K.C. MacKinnon, K.R. Amato, A.L.S. Meyer, S. Wich, R.W. Sussman, R. Pan, I. Kone, B. Li. (2017). Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: why primates matter. Science Advances. 3(1): e1600946.

  4. Amato, K.R. (2017). An Introduction to Microbiome Analysis for Human Biology Applications. American Journal of Human Biology. 29(1): e22931. Doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22931

  5. Amato, K.R., J.L. Metcalf, S.J. Song, V.L. Hale, J. Clayton, G. Ackermann, G. Humphrey, K. Niu, D. Cui, H.Zhao, M.D. Schrenzel, C. Tan, R. Knight, J. Braun. (2016). Using the gut microbiota as a novel tool for examining colobine primate GI health. Global Ecology and Conservation. 7: 225-237.

  6. Bennett G., M. Malone, M.L. Sauther, F.P. Cuozzo, B. White, K.E. Nelson, R.M. Stumpf, R. Knight, S.R. Leigh, K.R. Amato. (2016) Host age, social group and habitat type influence the gut microbiota of wild, ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta). American Journal of Primatology. 78(8): 883-892. Doi: 10.1002/ajp.22555

  7. Song, S.J. A. Amir, J.L. Metcalf, K.R. Amato, Z.Z. Xu, G. Humphrey, R. Knight. (2016) Preservation methods differ in fecal microbiome stability, affecting suitability for field studies. mSystems. 1(3) doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00021-16

  8. Amato, K.R. (2016) Incorporating the gut microbiota into models of human and non-human primate ecology and evolution. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. 159: 196-215. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22908

  9. Amato, K.R., R. Martinez-Mota, N. Righini, M. Raguet-Schofield, F.P. Corcione, E. Marini, G. Humphrey, G. Gogul, J. Gaffney7, E. Lovelace, L. Williams, A. Luong, M.G. Dominguez-Bello, R.M. Stumpf, B. White, K. Nelson, R. Knight, S.R. Leigh. (2016). Phylogenetic and ecological factors impact the gut microbiota of two Neotropical primate species. Oecologia. 180(3): 717-733. doi:

  10. 10. 1007/ s00442-015-3507-zAmato, K.R., C. J. Yeoman, C. Schmitt, G. Cerda, J.D. Cramer, M.E. Berg Miller, A. Gomez, T. Turner, B.A. Wilson, R. M. Stumpf, K.E. Nelson, B.A. White, R. Knight, S.R. Leigh. (2015). Variable responses of human and non-human primate gut microbiota to a Western diet. Microbiome. 3(53).

  11. Amato, K.R., S.R. Leigh, A.D. Kent, R. Mackie, C.J. Yeoman, R.M. Stumpf, B. A. Wilson, K.E. Nelson, B.A. White, P.A. Garber. (2015). The gut microbiota appears to compensate for seasonal diet variation in the wild black howler monkey. (Alouatta pigra). Microbial Ecology. 69(2): 434-443.

  12. Amato, K.R., S.R. Leigh, A.D. Kent, R. Mackie, C.J. Yeoman, R.M. Stumpf, B.A. Wilson, K.E. Nelson, B.A. White, P.A. Garber. (2014). The role of gut microbes in satisfying the demands of adult and juvenile wild, black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra). American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 155(4): 652-664. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22621

  13. Amato, K.R. and P.A. Garber. (2014). Nutrition and foraging strategies of the black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) in Palenque National Park, Mexico. American Journal of Primatology. 76(8): 774-787. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22268

  14. Amato, K.R. (2013). Co-evolution in context: The importance of studying gut microbiomes in wild animals. Microbiome Science and Medicine. 1:10-29. doi: 10.2478/micsm-2013-0002.

  15. Amato, K.R., C.J. Yeoman, A. Kent, N. Righini, F. Carbonero, A. Estrada, H.R. Gaskins, R. Stumpf, S. Yildirim, M. Torralba, M. Gillis, B. Wilson, K. Nelson, B. White, S.R. Leigh. (2013). Habitat degradation impacts black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) gastrointestinal microbes. The ISME Journal. 7: 1344-1353. doi:10.1038/ismej.2013.16.