Abstract # 104:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Salon G (Sixth Floor)) Poster Presentation


SOCIAL ISOLATION AFFECTS PARTNER-DIRECTED SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND CORTISOL DURING PAIR FORMATION IN MALE AND FEMALE WHITE-FACED MARMOSETS, CALLITHRIX GEOFFROYIS

A. S. Smith1,3, A. K. Birnie1 and J. A. French1,2
1Callitrichid Research Center & Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182, USA, 2Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE, 68182, USA, 3Present Institution: Department of Psychology & Program in Neuroscience, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, 32306
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Pair-bonded relationships form during periods of high proximity and sociosexual contact. Like other monogamous species, marmosets form new social partnerships after emigration or ejection from their natal group resulting in periods of social isolation. Thus, pair formation often occurs following a period of social instability and with a concomitant elevation in stress physiology. We examined sociosexual behavior and cortisol during the first 90-days of cohabitation in six male and seven female white-faced marmosets (Callithrix geoffroyi) paired either directly from their natal group (Natal-paired) or after a prolonged period of social isolation (Isolated-paired), 6–20 weeks [M=13.7, SE=1.9]. Social isolation prior to pairing increased social contact and allogrooming behaviors [p’s<0.05] but not sexual behavior. Cortisol levels were transiently elevated in all paired marmosets compared to natal-housed marmosets [F(2,23)=25.38, p<0.001]. However, Isolated-paired marmosets had higher cortisol levels throughout the pairing period compared to Natal-paired marmoset [F(1,7)=6.95, p<0.05]. Therefore, the social instability of pair formation may result in a transient increase in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity while previous social isolation leads to prolonged HPA axis dysregulation. In addition, higher cortisol levels were associated with more social contact behavior in females but not in males at the onset of pairing [r=0.84, P<0.05]. Thus, isolation-induced social contact with a new social partner may be enhanced by HPA axis activation in female marmosets but not males. Supported by NIH(HD42882).