Health and fitness consequences of group size varation in Verreaux's sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi)

 
 
                                                                                  
                Prof. Dr. Peter Kappeler, Göttingen                         PhD student: Katja Rudolph


Summary

A fundamental assumption in behavioral ecology posits that intraspecific variation in group size impacts individual health, condition, and ultimately fitness. The costs and benefits of living in groups of different sizes have not been comprehensively evaluated yet, however. The overall aim of this study is therefore to examine correlations between group size and ecological, social, physiological and health variables in a wild primate population. Specifically, this is the first comprehensive study to examine group size effects of ranging, feeding, parasite infection, stress levels and microbiome composition on individual fitness simultaneously. Because we will collect behavioral data and samples of neighboring groups of variable size, which will be combined with more than 20 years of demographic data, we will be able to assess the fitness consequences of group size variation. This study will therefore address a key link in the sociality-health-fitness nexus and additionally create potential for synergetic analyses. Moreover, this study will also contribute much needed comparative data across small group sizes for comparative studies, and it will provide the first test of the ecological constraints hypothesis in an independent primate radiation.

 

Publications

Rudolph, K., Fichtel, C.,  Schneider D., Heistermann, M., Koch, F., Daniel, R., Kappeler, P.M. (2019). One size fits all? Relationship among group size, health, and ecology indicate a lack of an optimal group size in a wild lemur population, Behav Ecol Sociobiol (under review)

 

Conference activities

Presentations

2019 

Rudolph, K., Fichtel, C., Heistermann, M., Schneider D., Daniel, R., Kappeler, P.M. (2019). On the relationship among group size, health, and ecology in a wild lemur population, 17th Conference of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie, Göttingen, February 13 – 15.

Rudolph, K., Fichtel, C., Heistermann, M., Schneider D., Daniel, R., Kappeler, P.M. (2019). The interplay of sociality, hormones and the gut microbiome in wild Verreaux’s sifakas, 14th Topical Meeting of the Ethological Society, Hannover, February 6 – 8. (1. Prize, Best Student Presentation)

2018

Rudolph, K.; Fichtel, C.; Heistermann, M.; Kappeler, P.M. (2018). Behavioural and physiological consequences of Verreaux’s sifakas, IPS 2018, Nairobi, Kenia, August 19 – 24.

2017

Rudolph, K.; Fichtel, C.; Heistermann, M.; Kappeler, P.M. (2017). How many friends a day keep the doctor away? Health consequences of sociality in Verreaux’s sifakas, 7th European Federation for Primatology Meeting, Strasbourg, France, August 21 – 25.

Rudolph, K.; Fichtel, C.; Heistermann, M.; Kappeler, P.M. (2017). Group therapy? Potential impacts of the social environment on individual health in Verreaux’s sifakas, Behavior 2017, Estoril, Portugal, July 30 – August 4.

Posters

2017

Rudolph, K.; Fichtel, C.; Heistermann, M.; Kappeler, P.M. (2017). Behavioral and physiological consequences of group size variation in Verreaux’s sifakas, 11th Göttinger Freilandtage, Göttingen, Germany, December 12 – 15.

Rudolph, K.; Fichtel, C.; Kappeler, P.M. (2017). Effects of group size variation on ranging and stress in Verreaux’s sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi), 12th Topical Meeting of the Ethological Society, Bonn, Germany, February 22 – 24. (1. Prize Poster Competition)

Rudolph, K.; Fichtel, C.; Kappeler, P.M. (2017). An optimal group size in Verreaux’s sifakas?, 15th Conference of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie, Zürich, Switzerland,
February 15 – 17. (1. Prize Poster Competition)

 

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