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Physiol Behav. 2009 Aug 4;98(1-2):168-75. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.05.005. Epub 2009 May 18.

Seasonal and social influences on fecal androgen and glucocorticoid excretion in wild male long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis).

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Department of Reproductive Biology, German Primate Centre, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.


Whereas it is well known that in strictly seasonal breeding primates (income breeders), alike other vertebrates, males show pronounced changes in testicular and adrenal hormone levels concurrent with reproductive activity, hormonal patterns in males of non-strictly seasonal breeding primate species (capital breeders) and their relation to seasonal and social correlates remain largely unknown. In the present study, we examined the annual pattern of fecal androgen and glucocorticoid excretion and their relationship to environmental (rainfall, temperature) and social factors (number of cycling females, male aggression and copulation rates, male dominance rank) in a group of wild long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), a species with a moderate degree of reproductive seasonality and classified as capital breeder. The study was carried out in the Gunung Leuser National Park, North Sumatra, Indonesia over a period of ten months encompassing the conception and the birth season. Our results show that male long-tailed macaques exhibit a distinct annual variation in both androgen and glucocorticoid levels. Androgen (but not glucocorticoid) levels were significantly elevated during the conception period in association with elevated rates of male-male aggression and copulatory activity, both strongly related to the number of cycling females in the group. Neither glucocorticoid nor androgen levels were related to male dominance rank or to the environmental parameters investigated. Interestingly, levels of both hormones started to increase in the late birth season and thus 1-2 months prior to the mating season, suggesting that male long-tailed macaques go through pre-breeding hormonal changes in preparation for prospective challenges. Our data thus provide the first evidence that males of a non-strictly seasonal breeding species/capital breeder show endocrine patterns generally similar to those found in strictly seasonal/income breeders.

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