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Cortisol metabolites vary with environmental conditions, predation risk, and human shields in a wild primate, Cercopithecus albogularis

LaBarge, Laura R.; Allan, Andrew T.L.; Berman, Carol M.; Hill, Russell A.; Margulis, Susan W.

Cortisol metabolites vary with environmental conditions, predation risk, and human shields in a wild primate, Cercopithecus albogularis Thumbnail


Authors

Laura R. LaBarge

Andy Allan andrew.allan@durham.ac.uk
Assistant Professor Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Carol M. Berman

Susan W. Margulis



Abstract

Environmental challenges are often associated with physiological changes in wildlife that allow animals to maintain homeostasis. Among these, scarcity in resources, and risks from predators, competitors, and humans can all result in psychological and physiological stress. Yet, for habituated species, it is not clear whether this relationship with humans still holds to a lesser degree or is outweighed by the benefits of human presence – such as serving as a buffer from competitors or predators. We investigated how human presence and environmental challenges such as resource availability, weather, predation, and competition may be associated with variation in fecal cortisol metabolite levels (FCMs) in a group of samango monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis) in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa. FCMs can often broadly track environmental challenges and perturbations. Initially, we employed an exploratory analysis comparing candidate models representing biological hypotheses and found that those incorporating information on human presence had less weight than models for food availability, thermoregulation, and water scarcity. When we examined a subset of the data that included information on intergroup competition and predator alarm calls, we found that FCMs were higher on the day following potential predator encounters but not competitive interactions. As observer numbers increased, responses to predators flattened, indicating that the presence of several humans might deter predators and/or affect samangos' perception of danger – yet we could not distinguish between these possibilities. Together, these results suggest that ecological perturbations track with FCMs in this study population and challenge long-held assumptions that human presence has negligible effects on habituated study animals.

Citation

LaBarge, L. R., Allan, A. T., Berman, C. M., Hill, R. A., & Margulis, S. W. (2022). Cortisol metabolites vary with environmental conditions, predation risk, and human shields in a wild primate, Cercopithecus albogularis. Hormones and Behavior, 145, Article 105237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2022.105237

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 14, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 28, 2022
Publication Date 2022-09
Deposit Date Jul 29, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 29, 2023
Journal Hormones and Behavior
Print ISSN 0018-506X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 145
Article Number 105237
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2022.105237
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1196406

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