Abstract # 143:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


HERITABILITY OF TESTOSTERONE LEVEL IN A CAPTIVE GROUP OF GENETICALLY VARIABLE MALE BABOONS

J. Califf1,2
1New York University, Anthropology Department, 25 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10003, USA, 2New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP)
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It is generally, and reasonably, assumed that species-specific behavioral traits have distinctive genetic underpinnings that have evolved by natural selection. While the social and environmental factors interacting with hormone levels have been extensively investigated in primates and other mammals, the genetic component has not. Consequently, the hypothesis that hormone-mediated behavior and behavioral diversity across related taxa has evolved by natural selection, rather than by “tradition” or other non-genetic transmission, though plausible, remains unproven. As a first step in this direction, this project tests whether a significant proportion of variation in testosterone concentration is attributable to heritage in a large, genetically diverse, and fully pedigreed population of captive baboons (Papio hamadryas, s.l.) housed at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, TX. Fecal samples [n=947] from 250 pedigreed, adult males were collected and testosterone was extracted and measured by radioimmunoassay in the Altmann Laboratory (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University). Individual testosterone levels were applied to the pedigree database, using a standard statistical package to estimate the relative impact of heritage against a background of fixed and random factors. Results for this population demonstrate that inter-individual differences in testosterone level are highly heritable [p<0.001], confirming that individual variation is under substantial genetic control and, perhaps, that species-specific androgen profiles and associated behaviors are under the influence of natural selection.