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Hormonal and Experiential Predictors of Infant Survivorship and Maternal Behavior in a Monogamous Primate (Callicebus cupreus)

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  • Contract grant sponsor: Good Nature Institute; contract grant sponsor: National Institutes of Health, contract grant number: HD053555, RR00169; contract grant sponsor: Schwall Fellowship in Biomedical Research.

Correspondence to: Michael R. Jarcho, Psychology Department, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

To better understand the roles that hormones and experience play in infant survival and maternal behavior in a biparental primate species, we analyzed urinary estrone (E1C) and pregnanediol glucuronide (PdG) from 24 socially housed titi monkey (Callicebus cupreus) females over 54 pregnancies (N = 1,430 samples). Pregnancies were categorized according to whether the infant survived (N = 35) or not (N = 19), and by maternal parity (primiparous: N = 9; multiparous: N = 45). Mothers of infants that survived had a significantly greater drop in PdG from the third trimester to the first week postpartum than mothers of infants that did not survive. Multiparous mothers had a greater increase in PdG from the first to the third trimester as well as greater increases in the E1C:PdG ratio from the first to the third trimester and from the third trimester to the first week postpartum. There were positive relationships between third trimester PdG and maternal carrying and nursing during the first week postpartum, and between maternal age and carrying during the infant's first month of life. There was a negative correlation between maternal age and PdG during the third trimester. These results suggest that elevated progesterone during late pregnancy followed by progesterone withdrawal immediately following parturition is associated with greater probability of infant survivorship and maternal behavior in this species, and that older females engage in more postpartum maternal care. Am. J. Primatol. 74:462-470, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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