Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 1–11

Intra-individual variability in fecal cortisol metabolites varies with lifetime exploration and reproductive life history in eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus)

  • P.-O. Montiglio
  • D. Garant
  • F. Pelletier
  • D. Réale
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-014-1812-x

Cite this article as:
Montiglio, PO., Garant, D., Pelletier, F. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2015) 69: 1. doi:10.1007/s00265-014-1812-x


Understanding the mechanistic links between individual variation in life history and behavior is a major challenge in evolutionary ecology. Glucocorticoids (GC) play a major role in this link through their baseline levels into the blood and their implication in stress responses to environmental perturbations. However, very few studies have investigated the long-term joint relationships between GC stress reactivity, life history, and behavior in natural conditions. Here, we took advantage of the behavioral and life history differences among individual males and females of a wild population of eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus): We investigated how individual exploration, age, and reproduction were linked to level and intra-individual variability (IIV) of fecal cortisol metabolites over a 5-month period. Our analyses revealed that female cortisol levels decreased during gestation and lactation compared with non-reproductive females. We also found that slower exploring females and females with a smaller litter displayed higher IIV in fecal cortisol metabolites. For males, fecal cortisol metabolites level during the mating season increased with the number of offspring produced and decreased with age. Our study highlights the necessity of considering simultaneously seasonal fluctuations in GC level and the dynamics of stress reactivity in the study of life history and behavioral co-adaptations within natural populations.


Intra-individual variability Alternative life histories Coping style Glucocorticoids Mate search Stress response 

Supplementary material

265_2014_1812_MOESM1_ESM.doc (45 kb)
Supplementary material A(DOC 45.0 kb)
265_2014_1812_MOESM2_ESM.doc (40 kb)
Supplementary material B(DOC 40.5 kb)
265_2014_1812_MOESM3_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Supplementary material C(DOC 38.5 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • P.-O. Montiglio
    • 1
  • D. Garant
    • 2
  • F. Pelletier
    • 3
  • D. Réale
    • 1
  1. 1.Chaire de recherche du Canada en écologie comportementale, Département des Sciences BiologiquesUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Département de biologie, Faculté des sciencesUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada
  3. 3.Chaire de recherche du Canada en démographie évolutive et conservation, Département de biologie, Faculté des sciencesUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada

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