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Effect of stress caused by male migration on female behaviour, physiology and reproductive success in crested macaques

Jerome Micheletta, PhD student , German Primate Center, Germany; University of Portsmouth, UK; 2010, 2011

Stress has a major impact on multiple aspects of primate social behaviour. In multi-male multi-female primate groups, immigration of new males is one of the most potentially disruptive influences on social life posing stress not only to the migrating male, but also to his new group mates. Response may however vary significantly between different group members (Alberts et al. 1992; Beehner et al. 2005; Bergman et al. 2005; Engh et al. 2006). The aim of this project is to quantify the degree of stress male immigration poses on different group members and to characterize the effect it has on their behaviour, physiology and reproductive success. Three factors are expected to influence individual stress response: 1. Potential risk of infanticide, 2. number of social partners and amount of social support received and 3. for males, risk of injury and loss of mating opportunities. The study will be carried out on wild crested macaques (Macaca nigra), a species in which male migration occurs relatively frequently (Neumann et al. 2010) and in which male attacks on infants are not uncommon (Engelhardt and Perwitasari-Farajallah 2007). Data will be collected on three large groups living in the Tangkoko Nature Reserve, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. We predict that stress levels increase significantly in late pregnant and lactating females after male immigration and that these females are most affected in terms of stress by the event compared to other females. We further predict that support provided by others reduces stress response and that therefore females with many social partners will be less stressed by male immigration (de Waal and Aureli 1996; Fraser et al. 2008). Males, in addition, are expected to respond towards newly immigrating males depending on this male’s and their own fighting ability. We will use a non-invasive, multi-disciplinary approach to test these predictions combining behavioural observations with hormone analysis from faecal samples to measure levels of glucocorticoids as markers of stress (Girard-Butoz et al. 2009; Heistermann et al. 2006). Multi-variate statistical analysis will be carried out and risk assessment will be modeled (Henzi et al. 1998). This study will be part of an ongoing larger project on the biology of crested macaques, which continues since 2006 (Duboscq et al. 2008; Duboscq et al. 2009; Engelhardt and Perwitasari-Farajallah 2007; Engelhardt et al. 2008; Neumann et al. 2010) and offers all infrastructure needed.


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physiological data from data collected on crested macaques (Macaca nigra). Data and sample collection, and analysis at Bogor Agricultural University will take place from October 1 2014- September 30 2016.