Abstract # 2984 Event # 151:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 18, 2011 05:00 PM-05:15 PM: Session 21 (Meeting Room 408) Oral Presentation


AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF BEHAVIORAL COPING STRATEGIES IN FREE-RANGING FEMALE BARBARY MACAQUES (MACACA SYLVANUS)

M. L. Gustison, A. MacLarnon and S. Semple
Roehampton University, Centre for Research in Evolutionary Anthropology, London SW15 4JD, USA
line
     Research on a range of vertebrate species suggests that three groups of behavior - affiliative, aggressive and displacement - may serve as coping strategies to mitigate the effects of stressors. To date however, no systematic studies on such strategies have been carried out on non-human primates in naturalistic conditions. We investigated these coping behaviors among semi-free ranging female Barbary macaques (n=12) in Trentham Monkey Forest, UK. We utilized a novel playback approach to quantify subjects’ acute (1 min), short-term (5 min) and long-term (20 min) ‘coping’ responses to aversive threat-grunt playbacks, compared to control playbacks. We also explored the relationship between coping behavior and average physiological stress levels, collecting fecal samples to determine mean fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGC) levels. Threat-grunt playbacks elicited short-term displacement (scratching) and long-term aggressive behaviors (threatening, lunging at, and chasing/assaulting group members), but not affiliative behaviors (allogrooming or approaching group members) (Wilcoxon matched-pairs tests and paired t-tests; alpha=0.05). Females’ elevation in rates of lunging following threat-grunt playbacks compared to controls were positively related to their mean FGC levels (Spearman rank correlation; alpha=0.05). Our results illustrate that playback studies may provide a powerful tool to explore coping strategies in naturalistic and wild settings; such studies will greatly augment our understanding of stress biology within an evolutionary context. This research was supported by the L.S.B. Leakey Trust and the International Primatological Society.