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Physiological and behavioral responses to routine procedures in captive common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

Abstract

The effect of routine captive procedures on the welfare of species used as experimental models in biomedical research is of great interest, since stress may alter the generalization and interpretation of results. This study investigated behavioral and endocrine (fecal cortisol) reactivity patterns in common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) adult males (N = 10) and females (N = 9) subjected to three types of routine procedures in captivity: (1) moving to a same-sized cage (P1), to a smaller cage (P2), and (2) first-time pair formation (P3). Sexually dimorphic cortisol responses were detected in animals submitted to a physical environmental stressor (cage change). Females showed an increased response throughout P1, in relation to baseline (BP) cortisol, and a trend during P2. Males increased cortisol only during P2. On the other hand, males and females showed a similar endocrine response when management involved social challenge (pair formation), with both sexes increasing cortisol levels, but females exhibited a more intense and longer-lasting cortisol increase. Males and females exhibited similar behavioral responses to cage change, except for autogrooming, with males decreasing this behavior in P1. Only females demonstrated a significantly higher increase in piloerection frequency than that of males during the pair formation phase. These endocrine and behavioral changes must be taken into account when interpreting research data that involve these types of procedures. Further studies on the impacts of routine colony management are required to devise and include protocols in official husbandry guidelines.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Edinolia Câmara, Antonio B. da Silva, and Geniberto C. dos Santos for animal care, and José Flávio V. Coutinho and Janaína Nitta for veterinary care.

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Correspondence to Nicole Leite Galvão-Coelho.

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de Menezes Galvão, A.C., Ferreira, R.G., de Sousa, M.B.C. et al. Physiological and behavioral responses to routine procedures in captive common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Primates 57, 421–431 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-016-0526-2

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Keywords

  • Behavior
  • Colony management
  • Fecal cortisol
  • Non-human primates
  • Stress