To start off this post, I just want to say how surprised I was yesterday when I thought about how there are only 2 weeks left until BSURF ends. On Friday I performed my last RIA for the summer, and this upcoming week my mentor and I will start analyzing the data we collected so far. Although I’m excited to learn about the statistical analyses used in the research my mentor does (while hanging out more with her dogs), I haven’t been away from the bench since the first week of BSURF. And while I performed 27 RIAs this summer, whether or not my mentor and I find meaningful results from our data is not 100% guaranteed. Regardless of what our results show, I’ve had an amazing time in the lab and feel great about the work I’ve done so far.
Abstract: Do Alpha and Low-ranking Male Yellow Baboons Experience Different Sources of Stress?
In yellow baboons, Papio cynocephalus, an individual’s dominance rank reflects their access to resources, which can result in varying levels of stress. A previous study found that the concentration of fecal glucocorticoid (fGC) increases as rank decreases in males with the exception of the highest-ranking alpha male, who possessed a significantly high concentration of fGC. While high levels of fGC were identified in alpha and low-ranking males, the major sources of stress between the two remains unknown. Triiodothyronine (T3) radioimmunoassays were conducted on fecal samples collected during a longitudinal study on a wild population of yellow baboons. We hypothesize that alpha males possess low concentrations of fecal T3 (fT) due to participation in mating activities and agonistic interactions that cause high energetic stress, which suppresses T3 secretion. Alternatively, low-ranking males will have high concentrations of fT since they primarily experience psychosocial stress caused by limited food access and harassment by higher-ranking males. Differences in stress between alpha and low-ranking males provides insight on the range of social challenges experienced within a natural population. Further research on other wild primate populations can deepen our knowledge of the similarities between how social status relates to stress among primates.