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The Influence of Social Environment on Morbidity, Mortality, and Reproductive Success in Free-Ranging Cercopithecine Primates

  • Marnie G. Silverstein-MetzlerEmail author
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Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)

Abstract

An understanding of the consequences of the socioeconomic gradient is paramount to addressing public health concerns. It has been well documented in Westernized societies that there is an association between low socioeconomic status (SES) and increased risk of adverse health outcomes; however, it is unknown whether the predominant cause of the health gradient is differences in lifestyle risk factors or psychophysiological responses to one’s social environment or both. Studying free-ranging cercopithecine primates provides a unique opportunity to study the effects of social environment on health. This review details effects of SES and other attributes of social environment on morbidity, mortality, and reproductive success in several of the best-studied free-ranging cercopithecine primate species—including olive baboons (Papio anubis), yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus), chacma baboons (Papio ursinus), cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis), and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). In these species, animals that occupy a low social status tend to be hypercortisolemic, slower to recover from injury and illness, experience increased mortality rates, and have decreased reproductive success. Rank effects seem to be most pronounced during times when allocation of resources—including food, water, and spacial positioning—became priorities such as for reproducing or surviving environmental threats. The development of strong and consistent social bonds may partially offset adverse health outcomes associated with low dominance rank and was found to independently predict survivorship. Overall, studies in free-ranging cercopithecine primates suggest that social environment, including psychophysiological stressors, influence the social inequalities observed in human health.

Keywords

Reproductive Success Dominance Rank Social Connectedness Dominant Female Rank Effect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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