The endocrinology of male rhesus macaque social and reproductive status: A test of the challenge and social stress hypotheses

James Higham, Michael Heistermann, Dario Maestripieri

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Social status primarily determines male mammalian reproductive success, and hypotheses on the endocrinology of dominance have stimulated unprecedented investigation of its costs and benefits. Under the challenge hypothesis, male testosterone levels rise according to competitive need, while the social stress hypothesis predicts glucocorticoid (GC) rises in high-ranking individuals during social unrest. Periods of social instability in group-living primates, primarily in baboons, provide evidence for both hypotheses, but data on social instability in seasonally breeding species with marked social despotism but lower reproductive skew are lacking. We tested these hypotheses in seasonally breeding rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. We documented male fecal GC and androgen levels over a 10-month period in relation to rank, age, natal status, and group tenure length, including during a socially unstable period in which coalitions of lower ranked males attacked higher ranked males. Androgen, but not GC, levels rose during the mating season; older males had lower birth season levels but underwent a greater inter-season rise than younger males. Neither endocrine measure was related to rank except during social instability, when higher ranked individuals had higher and more variable levels of both. High-ranking male targets had the highest GC levels of all males when targeted and also had high and variable GC and androgen levels across the instability period. Our results provide evidence for both the challenge and social stress hypotheses.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)19-30
    Number of pages12
    JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
    Volume67
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2013

    Fingerprint

    endocrinology
    reproductive status
    social status
    Macaca mulatta
    glucocorticoids
    androgen
    testing
    androgens
    ranking
    breeding
    test
    Papio
    testosterone
    Puerto Rico
    primate
    dominance (genetics)
    reproductive success
    breeding season
    Rosa
    Primates

    Keywords

    • Challenge hypothesis
    • Dominance
    • Male-male competition
    • Social status
    • Social stress

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Animal Science and Zoology

    Cite this

    The endocrinology of male rhesus macaque social and reproductive status : A test of the challenge and social stress hypotheses. / Higham, James; Heistermann, Michael; Maestripieri, Dario.

    In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 67, No. 1, 2013, p. 19-30.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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