Abstract # 17:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2005 11:00 AM-11:15 AM: Session 2 (Mayfair Room) Oral Presentation


BEHAVIORAL TRAITS IN VERVET MONKEYS: I. SOCIAL GROUP BEHAVIOR DURING ADOLESCENCE

C. Desbiolles1, F. R. Ervin2,3, S. N. Young2, C. Merette4 and R. M. Palmour1,2,3,5
1Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3Z 1W7, Canada, 2Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, 3Behavioral Science Foundation, St. Kitts, Eastern Caribbean, 4Centre de recherche université Laval Robert-Giffard, Beauport Québec Canada, 5Human Genetics, McGill Universit
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     The definition of primate behavioral traits is increasingly topical. In a longitudinal studyof four birth cohorts (Jan 1996 – Dec 1999) of vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) born into a large outdoor breeding colony, we documented behavior in two social contexts (natal cage, juvenile peer group) and two exposures to novel testing environments. Behavior in the juvenile peer group (21-42 months of age) was documented by multiple bouts of focal animal observation. Raw behavioral measures were submitted to factor analysis (varimax rotation). Five orthogonal factors, each with Eigenvalue > 1.3 accounted for 54.7% of the variance. In order of decreasing proportional variance, these factors were interpreted as "agonism," "energetic sociability," "agreeableness," "playfulness" and "behavioral inhibition." After correction for multiple testing, several significant correlations remained. Age was negatively related to the first two factors and positively related to factors the other three. Males scored higher on "playfulness," while females had higher scores for "energetic sociability" and "agreeableness." Motor activity was positively correlated with "agreeableness" and negatively correlated with "behavioral inhibition." Monkeys with high scores for "agonism" had significantly higher social rank, while those with high scores for "behavioral inhibition" had significantly lower rank. Cerebrospinal fluid levels of serotonin metabolite 5-HIAA and noradrenaline metabolite MHPG were negatively correlated with "agreeableness" and "behavioral inhibition,” respectively. This factor solution, while highly coherent with other primate solutions, uniquely shows that meaningful behavioral traits can be derived from uninterpreted behavioral observations. Supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MT-14526 to RMP, FRE; MOP-15005 to SNY) and the Behavioural Sciences Foundation, St Kitts.