Seasonal and reproductive variation in body condition in captive female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)


  • Cécile Garcia,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire de Dynamique de l'Evolution Humaine, CNRS UPR 2147, Paris, France
    2. Department of Ecology and Social Behavior, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Japan
    • Laboratoire de dynamique de l'évolution humaine, CNRS UPR 2147, 44 rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, 75014 Paris, France
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  • Michael Huffman,

    1. Department of Ecology and Social Behavior, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Japan
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  • Keiko Shimizu

    1. Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Okayama University of Science, Okayama, Japan
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The geographic distribution of Japanese macaques includes populations with the most northern range of any primate species. Not surprisingly, females of this species are characterized by physiological adaptations and unique fat deposition mechanisms that facilitate their survival through the sometimes-harsh seasonal conditions of temperate climates, as well as sustaining the metabolic costs of mating, pregnancy, and lactation. Here, we explore the relationship between nutritional status, seasonality, and reproductive status using anthropometric and leptin measures from 14 captive female Japanese macaques. No seasonal patterns were found in the levels of leptin, but there were differences between seasons in anthropometric measures, specifically between the beginning and the end of the mating season. Females gained weight and accumulated energy reserves in fall to prepare for mating activity, and to survive the severe conditions of winter, which is also the period of gestation if pregnancy occurs. Lactating females had larger total skinfolds relative to nonlactating individuals, and females with older babies at the beginning of the mating season had larger abdominal skinfolds than did those with younger babies. There was a relationship between the likelihood of conception and nutritional status, with females that conceived during one mating season being in better condition at the end of their previous mating season. Together, these results suggest that, even in captive settings, seasonal breeding has a cost on the energetic demands of mating, and that higher condition (i.e. fatter) females could afford the demands of lactation and reproduced more rapidly. Am. J. Primatol. 72:277–286, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.