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Primates

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 259–272 | Cite as

Variation of hair cortisol concentrations among wild populations of two baboon species (Papio anubis, P. hamadryas) and a population of their natural hybrids

  • Nicolaas H. FourieEmail author
  • Clifford J. Jolly
  • Jane E. Phillips-Conroy
  • Janine L. Brown
  • Robin M. Bernstein
Original Article

Abstract

Male olive (Papio anubis) and hamadryas (P. hamadryas) baboons have distinctive sociobehavioral and physical characteristics. In the Awash National Park, Ethiopia, a hybrid population at the contact zone between these two species, exhibits heterogeneous sociobehavioral and physical characteristics. The ambiguity of the hybrid social environment and disruption of parental stress genotypes may be sources of physiological stress for hybrids. We examined levels of chronic stress among males of the three populations and tested the prediction that chronic cortisol levels would be higher among the hybrids. Animals were captured, sampled, and released during the wet season, and a hair sample was taken for assay. Cortisol was extracted from 182 hair samples with methanol and quantified by ELISA. We included age, age class, rainfall variation, and species affiliation in models examining variation in hair cortisol levels. Species and age significantly contributed to models explaining variation in hair cortisol. Infant hypercortisolism was observed in all three groups, and a decline in cortisol through juvenile and adolescent stages, with a subsequent rise in adulthood. This rise occurred earliest in hamadryas, corroborating other evidence of the precocious development of hamadryas baboons. As expected, hybrids had significantly elevated hair cortisol compared with olive baboons and hamadryas, irrespective of age, except for very young animals. Infant hypercortisolism was also less pronounced among hybrids. Species differences and age-related differences in cortisol levels suggest a dysregulated cortisol phenotype in hybrids, and possibly reflect some form of hybrid disadvantage. More work will be required to disentangle the effects of genetic factors and the social environment.

Keywords

Hair Cortisol Baboons Hybrids Behavior Stress 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank all those who participated in sample and data collection over the course of the Awash National Park Baboon Research Project, the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization, Addis Ababa University, the Awash National Park wardens and scouts, and many graduate students and Earthwatch volunteers. We acknowledge the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute’s Endocrinology Laboratory, in particular Nicole Presley and Sarah Putman for their friendly assistance and advice. Hair samples were collected during fieldwork conducted from 1993 to 2000 supported by the Earthwatch Institute, New York University, Washington University, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Science Foundation (NSFSRB9615150).

Ethical standard

The research was conducted with permission granted by successive General Managers of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization, with the collaboration of Addis Ababa University, and with the invaluable practical assistance of the Wardens and Staff of the Awash National Park. Research protocols were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees of Washington University and New York University, and all capture, sampling, and release procedures conducted in the field conformed with rules and regulations of the host country.

Supplementary material

10329_2015_469_MOESM1_ESM.docx (65 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 65 kb)

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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolaas H. Fourie
    • 1
    Email author
  • Clifford J. Jolly
    • 2
  • Jane E. Phillips-Conroy
    • 3
    • 4
  • Janine L. Brown
    • 5
  • Robin M. Bernstein
    • 6
  1. 1.Biobehavioral Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Nursing ResearchNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyWashington University School of MedicineSaint LouisUSA
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  5. 5.Smithsonian Conservation Biology InstituteCenter for Species SurvivalFront RoyalUSA
  6. 6.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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