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Life at the Top: Rank and Stress in Wild Male Baboons

Author(s): Gesquiere, Laurence R.; Learn, Niki H.; Simao, M. Carolina M.; Onyango, Patrick O.; Alberts, Susan C.; et al

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Abstract: In social hierarchies, dominant individuals experience reproductive and health benefits, but the costs of social dominance remain a topic of debate. Prevailing hypotheses predict that higher-ranking males experience higher testosterone and glucocorticoid (stress hormone) levels than lower-ranking males when hierarchies are unstable but not otherwise. In this long-term study of rank-related stress in a natural population of savannah baboons (Papio cynocephalus), high-ranking males had higher testosterone and lower glucocorticoid levels than other males, regardless of hierarchy stability. The singular exception was the highest-ranking (alpha) males, who exhibited both high testosterone and high glucocorticoid levels. In particular, alpha males exhibited much higher stress hormone levels than second-ranking (beta) males, suggesting that being at the very top may be more costly than previously thought.
Publication Date: 15-Jul-2011
Electronic Publication Date: 14-Jul-2011
Citation: Gesquiere, Laurence R., Learn, Niki H., Simao, M. Carolina M., Onyango, Patrick O., Alberts, Susan C., Altmann, Jeanne. (2011). Life at the Top: Rank and Stress in Wild Male Baboons. Science, 333 (6040), 357 - 360. doi:10.1126/science.1207120
DOI: doi:10.1126/science.1207120
ISSN: 0036-8075
EISSN: 1095-9203
Pages: 357 - 360
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Science
Version: Author's manuscript

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