Academic department under which the project should be listed

CSM - Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Sarah Guindre-Parker

There are no human subjects involved in this work.

Abstract (300 words maximum)

All animals are influenced by their environment. For social species, this means that changes in group size or composition can have long-lasting effects on survival or reproduction. When these social species are placed in captivity and new individuals are introduced suddenly by zookeepers or researchers, these events can lead to stress by changing established dominance hierarchies. For example, these interactions can cause stress hormones—like cortisol in primates and humans—to be released in response to meeting unfamiliar individuals. We took advantage of an introduction event happening at a captive research and conservation facility to better understand how introducing a new female bonobo (Pan paniscus) to existing males and females at the facility shaped changes in cortisol. We collected daily urine samples to examine longitudinal changes in cortisol, including pre-, during, and post-introduction. Cortisol will be measured with a commercial enzyme immunoassay. We predict that individuals will perceive the introduction as a social perturbation which will result in a sudden rise in cortisol levels. We also predict that female bonobos will exhibit a sharper increase in cortisol levels upon the introduction of a new female member within the group compared to male bonobos because female-female competition is stronger in bonobos than male-female competition.

Project Type

Poster

Share

COinS
 

Does cortisol respond to a social perturbation in captive bonobos?

All animals are influenced by their environment. For social species, this means that changes in group size or composition can have long-lasting effects on survival or reproduction. When these social species are placed in captivity and new individuals are introduced suddenly by zookeepers or researchers, these events can lead to stress by changing established dominance hierarchies. For example, these interactions can cause stress hormones—like cortisol in primates and humans—to be released in response to meeting unfamiliar individuals. We took advantage of an introduction event happening at a captive research and conservation facility to better understand how introducing a new female bonobo (Pan paniscus) to existing males and females at the facility shaped changes in cortisol. We collected daily urine samples to examine longitudinal changes in cortisol, including pre-, during, and post-introduction. Cortisol will be measured with a commercial enzyme immunoassay. We predict that individuals will perceive the introduction as a social perturbation which will result in a sudden rise in cortisol levels. We also predict that female bonobos will exhibit a sharper increase in cortisol levels upon the introduction of a new female member within the group compared to male bonobos because female-female competition is stronger in bonobos than male-female competition.