• cotton-top tamarin;
  • androgens;
  • glucocorticoids;
  • chemical signalling;
  • ovulation;
  • parenting behavior


Male cotton-top tamarins have been shown to be responsive to female scent cues of ovulation, and are known to actively participate in infant care during the time when their mates are fertile. We measured urinary androgen levels and glucocorticoids in seven father tamarins for the first month following the birth of infants to determine 1) whether male tamarins showed an androgen response to their mate's postpartum ovulation, 2) when androgens rise relative to ovulation, 3) whether there is a glucocorticoid response, and 4) whether males alter their parenting behavior during their mate's receptive period. All of the males showed a significant increase in urinary androgens prior to the female's postpartum LH peak, which indicated ovulation. The hormonal increase, which included estradiol, occurred 3–7 days prior to the female's LH peak at a time that coincided with the female's follicular period. Corticosterone levels also peaked during that time, but did not correlate with androgen changes. Fathers did not alter their daily infant-carrying patterns relative to the androgen increase or at the time of the mate's LH peak. We conclude that male cotton-top tamarins experience an increase in androgens that coincides with their mate's postpartum ovulation, which ensures optimal fertility. However, this sexual communication does not alter father–infant interactions, which already occur at a high rate in this species. Am. J. Primatol. 64:57–69, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.