Abstract # 32:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2014 04:35 PM-04:50 PM: Session 9 (Mary Gay) Symposium


INSIGHTS FROM PRIMATE MODELS FOR HUMAN SOCIALITY: SYNERGIES BETWEEN STUDIES IN CAPTIVITY AND THE FIELD

J. Tung
Duke University, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Box 90383, Durham, NC 27708, USA
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      Nonhuman primates are vital model systems for understanding the effects of social adversity on health, with important insights stemming from research conducted both in captivity and in wild populations. Here, I present two examples from our research on social environmental effects and gene regulation to illustrate ways in which these settings can be mutually informative. First, studies in captivity can provide strong indications about what biological phenomena are affected by social environmental variation. For example, links between dominance rank and DNA methylation in captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) have helped motivate our current work on early social environmental effects on DNA methylation in wild baboons (Papio cynocephalus). Second, comparisons between data from both settings can contribute to understanding the context-dependent nature of social stressors, including their persistence over time. For instance, our data suggest that male dispersal—a stressful event that disrupts existing social ties—is tied to changes in gene expression in free-ranging rhesus macaques. However, unlike the effects of some social stressors studied in captivity, these changes are transient, becoming undetectable outside of the peri-dispersal period. Thus, social stressors that are a natural part of a species’ life history may carry different long-term consequences than those that have fewer ethological parallels, emphasizing the need for comparative study in both captive and wild populations.