DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1141.2013.E02E42

Zoological Research (动物学研究) 2013/34:2 PP.E42-E49

Social rank and cortisol among female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

In animal societies, some stressful events can lead to higher levels of physiological stress. Such stressors, like social rank, also predict an increased vulnerability to an array of diseases. However, the physiological relationship between social rank and stress varies between different species, as well as within groups of a single species. For example, dominant individuals are more socially stressed at times, while at other times it is the subordinate ones who experience this stress. Together, these variations make it difficult to assess disease vulnerability as connected to social interactions. In order to learn more about how physiological rank relationships vary between groups of a single species, cortisol measurements from hair samples were used to evaluate the effects of dominance rank on long-term stress levels in despotic and less stringent female rhesus macaque hierarchal groups. In despotic groups, cortisol levels were found not to be correlated with social rank, but a negative correlation was found between social rank and cortisol levels in less stringent hierarchies. Low ranking monkeys in less stringent groups secreted elevated levels of cortisol compared to higher ranking animals. These data suggest that variations in the strictness of the dominance hierarchy are determining factors in rank related stress physiology. The further consideration of nonhuman primate social system diversity and the linear degree of their hierarchies may allow for the development of valid rank-related stress models that will help increase our understanding and guide the development of new therapeutics for diseases related to human socioeconomic status.

Key words:Social rank,Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis,Cortisol,Female,Rhesus macaques

ReleaseDate:2015-04-16 19:34:20

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