Hormonal Correlates of Divergent Growth Trajectories in Wild Male Anubis (Papio anubis) and Hamadryas (P. hamadryas) Baboons in the Awash River Valley, Ethiopia

Abstract

Comparative investigations of hormone concentration and pattern during ontogeny can offer insight regarding the evolution of growth trajectories. Anubis (Papio anubis) and hamadryas (P. hamadryas) baboons exemplify primate populations at a crucial stage of phylogenetic divergence. Though not reproductively isolated, the species are distinguished by consistent morphological, behavioral, and physiological differences, including trajectories of growth and maturation associated with divergent male reproductive strategies. As a step toward understanding the proximate causes of these differences, we tested several hypotheses regarding the relationship of growth-regulatory hormones and binding proteins (insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 [IGFBP-3], growth hormone binding protein, and testosterone) to growth in several measurements. We collected samples (N = 559) across 13 field seasons, from 7 different social groups. Samples came from 398 different individuals. We sampled 285 once; 76, twice; 29, three times; 5, four times; and 3, five times. Although ages at peak hormone concentrations were not significantly different, concentrations of all hormones and binding proteins measured, except testosterone, were higher in hamadryas than in anubis. All factors measured correlated positively with growth in both species, and IGFBP-3 and testosterone in particular correlated significantly with growth in all measurements. Overall, our findings suggest a role for the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor axis in producing distinctive patterns of growth in these species.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the many volunteers, graduate students, and colleagues who have helped to gather the data represented here; the financial support of the National Science Foundation (NSF SRF 9615150, NSF BCS 0051130), the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Earthwatch/Center for Field Research, the International Primatological Society, Washington University, New York University, and The George Washington University; the research permission granted by successive general managers of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization; the collaboration of Addis Ababa University; and the invaluable practical assistance of the wardens and staff of the Awash National Park.

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Correspondence to Robin M. Bernstein.

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Bernstein, R.M., Drought, H., Phillips-Conroy, J.E. et al. Hormonal Correlates of Divergent Growth Trajectories in Wild Male Anubis (Papio anubis) and Hamadryas (P. hamadryas) Baboons in the Awash River Valley, Ethiopia. Int J Primatol 34, 732–751 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-013-9692-x

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Keywords

  • Baboons
  • Body size
  • Growth
  • Growth hormone binding protein
  • Insulin-like growth factor
  • Testosterone