Abstract # 2312 Poster # 66:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2007 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 7 (South Main Hall) Poster Presentation


Heritability of Dominance Rank in Laboratory-housed Juvenile Nonhuman Primates

S. J. Thomas1, M. L. Schwandt2, S. G. Lindell2, S. J. Suomi3, C. S. Barr2 and J. D. Higley1,2
1Brigham Young University, Department of Psychology, Provo, UT 84057, USA, 2Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies, NIAAA, NIH, 3Lab of Comparative Ethology, NICHD, NIH
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     The heritability of traits linked to social dominance ranking in macaques has long been discussed in the primatology community. In natural settings mothers confer their dominance rank to their daughters and it is maintained. Males, on the other hand, leave their natal group and establish a dominance rank that is independent of maternal coalitions and defense. Moreover, it is also unclear as to how the original matrilineal dominance ranks were established. Using the established dominance hierarchies of the rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) at the Poolesville, NIH, primate facility, we analyzed the potential genetic link between parents and their first generation of offspring. These subadult offspring were peer-reared and were living apart from their mothers at the time of testing, and their mother’s presence would have no affect. Paternal half-siblings (N=29) were available to assess for paternal genetic relationships. Heritability was assessed using an ANOVA that provided a statistically significant heritability of 0.72 [F(9,19)=2.62, p=0.037]. While there are difficulties generalizing from the laboratory environment to the natural setting where subjects acquire dominance from the dominance of their mother, our findings suggest that sires contribute genetically to the acquisition of dominance in the laboratory setting, and suggest possible explanations for the acquisition and maintenance of dominance in males after leaving their natal troops as well as underlying factors which lead to high dominance in the original matrilines.