Abstract # 217:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 20, 2005 09:00 AM-09:30 AM: Session 16 (Crystal Ballroom) Oral Presentation

Fecal Cortisol in Two Black Howler Populations

M. S. Pavelka1, A. M. Behie1 and C. Chapman2
1Dept. of Anthropology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada, 2McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
     Here we report on the fecal cortisol levels in a black howler population experiencing a serious population decline following hurricane Iris in southern Belize 3.5 years ago. Comparing the fecal cortisol levels in the hurricane damaged Monkey River (MR) population with those of healthy stable populations may elucidate mechanisms by which a major natural disaster contributes to population decline. During May and June of 2004 we collected fecal samples from 43 individuals from Monkey River, 68 from the Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS), and 5 from the Belize Zoo. Cortisol was extracted in the field using protocols developed by the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, where the samples were also later analyzed. Cortisol levels for the entire dataset ranged from 2.64 to 237.01 with an average of 31.38 and standard deviation of 35.54 (n = 116). The highest levels of cortisol were collected from CBS (mean = 35.67, SD = 41.74, n = 68) followed by the Zoo (mean = 29.19, SD = 10.87, n = 5) and the lowest levels were recorded from the MR samples (mean = 24.86, SD = 24.38, n = 43). One way analysis of variance showed no difference in cortisol levels between the 3 monkey populations, although variation in cortisol was much higher in the healthy CBS monkeys. This project was partially supported by a Conservation Small Grant from the American Society of Primatologists.