The influence of age on fecal steroid hormone levels in male Budongo Forest chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii)



Potential interactions between age and endocrinological functioning have been understudied in wild ape populations. Therefore, we examined the relationship between age and the secretion of androgens and glucocorticoids in 15 juvenile, subadult, and adult male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) free ranging in the Budongo Forest of Uganda. One hundred and nine fecal samples were opportunistically collected, between 07:30 and 13:30 hr, during the wet season. Fecal samples were preserved, by oven drying, and steroid content extracted before radioimmunoassay for dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S), testosterone (TEST), cortisol (CORT), and corticosterone (CCT). Employing indexes of age as predictive factors, linear mixed-effects modeling and non-parametric statistical comparisons of fecal steroid levels were conducted. Age was observed to significantly influence the production of both glucocorticoids and androgens in male Budongo Forest chimpanzees. Basically, whereas TEST and CORT increased, DHEA-S and CCT levels slightly declined as animals matured. Am. J. Primatol. 70:661–669, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.