Social determinants of physiological stress and health aspects in wild female crested macaques (Macaca nigra)

Dr. Antje Engelhardt, Göttingen
Dr. Michael Heistermann, Göttingen

Post Doc: Céline Bret


The quality and quantity of social relationships influences the individual risk of mortality in humans and animals alike. The buffering effect social relationships may have on acute and chronic stressors have been particularly invoked in this respect. Chronically elevated glucocorticoid levels have been shown to suppress the immune system and, thus, to increase susceptibility to parasites and disease, and thereby mortality in a variety of taxa. Furthermore, more recent studies on personality suggest that certain personality traits also impact individual immune response and healthiness. However, only a few studies on wild mammals have so far directly investigated the link between sociality, personality, stress levels and individual health. In our study, we therefore aim at investigating this relationship in a wild population of a highly tolerant primate species, the crested macaque. The study will be carried out by combining detailed analysis of behavioural data, including social network analysis, with data on physiological stress, and from a set of non-invasively collected health markers.

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