More omnivore dilemmas: Seasonal diet changes can cause reproductive stress in primates

More omnivore dilemmas: Seasonal diet changes can cause reproductive stress in primates
This is a blue monkey. Credit: Steffen Foerster

When seasonal changes affect food availability, omnivores like blue monkeys adapt by changing their diets, but such nutritional changes may impact female reproduction, according to research published November 28 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Steffen Foerster from Barnard College, and colleagues from Columbia University and the Smithsonian Institution.

The authors found that levels of fecal glucocorticoids (fGC), a stress marker, increased when female monkeys shifted their diet towards lower quality fallback foods, whereas the levels decreased when the monkeys had access to preferred foods like insects, fruits and young leaves.

They also found that lactating females and those in the later stages of pregnancy showed greater increases in the stress marker than females who were not in these stages of reproduction. According to the authors, their results suggest that these seasonal changes in may affect inter-birth intervals in these primates, and also affect the timing of infant independence from mothers.

Foerster adds, "While it was interesting to find that even subtle changes in dietary composition may have strong effects on female reproductive decisions, it is equally noteworthy that was almost entirely absent from blue monkey societies. Our study makes the point that integrating behavioral, ecological, and hormonal measures can reveal adaptive behavioral and that would otherwise be difficult to discern."


Explore further

Estrogenic plants linked to altered hormones, possible behavior changes in monkeys

More information: Foerster S, Cords M, Monfort SL (2012) Seasonal Energetic Stress in a Tropical Forest Primate: Proximate Causes and Evolutionary Implications. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50108. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050108
Journal information: PLoS ONE

Citation: More omnivore dilemmas: Seasonal diet changes can cause reproductive stress in primates (2012, November 28) retrieved 20 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-11-omnivore-dilemmas-seasonal-diet-reproductive.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more