Variation in the resumption of cycling and conception by fecal androgen and estradiol levels in female Northern Muriquis (Brachyteles hypoxanthus)

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Abstract

We measured fecal androgen (T+DHT) and estradiol (E2) levels in female northern muriquis (Brachyteles hypoxanthus) at the Estação Biológica de Caratinga/RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala, Minas Gerais, Brazil, to evaluate the hormonal bases underlying individual variation in the resumption of cycling and conception. We found that androgen levels were significantly lower in females than in males, and that there were no consistent patterns in female androgen levels across precycling or cycling conditions. Females that resumed cycling earlier in the study (weeks 4–8) had higher precycling E2 levels and correspondingly lower precycling androgen/E2 ratios than females that resumed cycling later (weeks 12–16). There were no differences in female precycling androgen levels, but cycling females that conceived during or immediately after the study period had lower androgen levels and threefold higher E2 peaks than the one cycling female that failed to conceive. These results suggest that minimum E2 thresholds are necessary for both the resumption of ovarian cycling and conception. Individual variation in these components of fertility may be regulated by differences in E2 levels, which affect androgen/E2 ratios, rather than by androgen levels per se. Further research into the relative concentrations of T vs. DHT will be necessary to fully evaluate whether androgens affect cycling and conception in this species. Am. J. Primatol. 67:69–81, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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