Effect of giving birth on the cortisol level in a bonobo groups' (Pan paniscus) saliva

Working Group Ethology, Institute of Animal Physiology, University of Giessen, Wartweg 95, 35392 Giessen, Germany.
Primates (Impact Factor: 1.34). 02/2009; 50(2):190-3. DOI: 10.1007/s10329-008-0121-2
Source: PubMed


This study documents the cortisol levels in the saliva of a bonobo group, especially that of a bonobo female which had given birth for the first time. During a long study in Zoological Garden Frankfurt, Germany, a bonobo baby was born on 3 August 2007. Due to the fission-fusion keeping system employed, the bonobos were divided into two groups on this day. Their behavior was observed regularly and saliva was also collected. The bonobos had been trained to chew cotton wool and to give back the samples. The cortisol response was tested twice a day before birth and three times on the day of parturition. Before birth, no observable indication behavior was seen, but an increase in the cortisol concentration of the expectant mother was found. Parturition occurred at 8 pm. The next morning, the group with the newborn was visibly more active, which correlated with the fact that their cortisol levels were increased in the morning in comparison to the second group. During the day, cortisol decreased in both groups, only it was higher throughout the day in the new mother. In the evening, the two groups showed nearly the same cortisol levels. These data indicate that there is indeed a relation between observable behavior and the cortisol level in bonobo saliva. Therefore, the cortisol level can be regarded as a suitable indicator for verifying behavioral events.

Download full-text


Available from: Wolfgang G. Clauss, May 26, 2015
1 Follower
25 Reads
    • "Pregnancy, birth, and lactation are reproductive states associated with predictable stimuli and accompanied by changes in GC concentrations. In humans and anthropoid primates, GC concentrations increase over the course of pregnancy (humans [Homo sapiens]: Mastorakos and Ilias 2003, chimpanzees [Pan troglodytes] and gorillas [Gorilla gorilla]: Smith et al. 1999) and spike at parturition (bonobos [Pan paniscus]: Behringer et al. 2009; chimpanzees: Murray et al. 2013). Increased GC levels during pregnancy are likely crucial for normal fetal development and timing of parturition (Obel et al. 2005; Sloboda et al. 2005); however, increased circulating GC levels do not necessarily translate into increased reactivity to stressors. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Individual differences in maternal behavior toward, and investment in, offspring can have lasting consequences, particularly among primate taxa characterized by prolonged periods of development over which mothers can exert substantial influence. Given the role of the neuroendocrine system in the expression of behavior, researchers are increasingly interested in understanding the hormonal correlates of maternal behavior. Here, we examined the relationship between maternal behavior and physiological stress levels, as quantified by fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentrations, in lactating chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii, at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. After accounting for temporal variation in FGM concentrations, we found that mothers interacted socially (groomed and played) with and nursed their infants more on days when FGM concentrations were elevated compared to days when FGM concentrations were within the range expected given the time of year. However, the proportion of time mothers and infants spent in contact did not differ based on FGM concentrations. These results generally agree with the suggestion that elevated GC concentrations are related to maternal motivation and responsivity to infant cues and are the first evidence of a hormonal correlate of maternal behavior in a wild great ape.
    International Journal of Primatology 06/2015; 36(3). DOI:10.1007/s10764-015-9836-2 · 1.99 Impact Factor
    • "Luna and Leah received considerable attention from other mature and immature females during the week following parturition, which was manifested in grooming, peering, and proximity maintenance . These observations parallel observations in captive bonobos (Behringer et al. 2009; Coppola et al. 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Parturition is one of the most important yet least observed events in studies of primate life history and reproduction. Here, I report the first documented observation of a bonobo (Pan paniscus) birth event in the wild, at the Luikotale Bonobo Project field site, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The nulliparous mother’s behaviour before, during and after parturition is described, along with reactions of other community members to the birth and the neonate. Data were collected through focal-animal observations, and the events postpartum were photo-documented. The behaviour and spatial distribution of party members were recorded using scan samples. Parturition occurred during the late morning in a social context, with parous females in close proximity to the parturient mother. Placentophagia occurred immediately after delivery, and the parturient shared the placenta with two of the attending females. I compare this observation with reports of parturition in captive bonobos, and highlight the observed female sociality and social support during the birth event. Plausible adaptive advantages of parturition occurring in a social context are discussed, and accrued observations of birth events in wild and free-ranging primates suggest that females may give birth within proximity of others more frequently than previously thought. This account contributes rare empirical data for examining the interface between female sociality and parturition, and the evolution of parturitional behaviours in primates.
    Primates 07/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10329-014-0436-0 · 1.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Traditionally, monitoring short-term stress response non-invasively in great apes has been performed by measuring salivary cortisol levels (e.g. chimpanzee: [27], bonobo: [28], orangutan: [29], western lowland gorilla: [30]). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Salivary alpha amylase (sAA) is the most abundant enzyme in saliva. Studies in humans found variation in enzymatic activity of sAA across populations that could be linked to the copy number of loci for salivary amylase (AMY1), which was seen as an adaptive response to the intake of dietary starch. In addition to diet dependent variation, differences in sAA activity have been related to social stress. In a previous study, we found evidence for stress-induced variation in sAA activity in the bonobos, a hominoid primate that is closely related to humans. In this study, we explored patterns of variation in sAA activity in bonobos and three other hominoid primates, chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan to (a) examine if within-species differences in sAA activity found in bonobos are characteristic for hominoids and (b) assess the extent of variation in sAA activity between different species. The results revealed species-differences in sAA activity with gorillas and orangutans having higher basal sAA activity when compared to Pan. To assess the impact of stress, sAA values were related to cortisol levels measured in the same saliva samples. Gorillas and orangutans had low salivary cortisol concentrations and the highest cortisol concentration was found in samples from male bonobos, the group that also showed the highest sAA activity. Considering published information, the differences in sAA activity correspond with differences in AMY1 copy numbers and match with general features of natural diet. Studies on sAA activity have the potential to complement molecular studies and may contribute to research on feeding ecology and nutrition.
    PLoS ONE 04/2013; 8(4):e60773. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0060773 · 3.23 Impact Factor
Show more