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Validation of a Field Technique and Characterization of Fecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite Analysis in Wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Authors

  • CARSON M. MURRAY,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia
    • Department of Conservation and Science, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
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  • MATTHEW R. HEINTZ,

    1. Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
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  • ELIZABETH V. LONSDORF,

    1. Department of Conservation and Science, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
    2. Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
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  • LISA A. PARR,

    1. Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • RACHEL M. SANTYMIRE

    1. Department of Conservation and Science, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
    2. Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
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  • The first two authors contributed equally to the manuscript.Contract grant sponsor: National Institutes of Health; Contract grant number: K99HD057992-02; Contract grant sponsor: Davee Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: Guthman Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: Leakey Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: Wenner-Gren Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: NSFGRF.

Correspondence to: Carson M. Murray, The George Washington University, 2110 G. Street NW, Washington, DC 20052. E-mail: cmmurray@gwu.edu

Abstract

Monitoring adrenocortical activity in wild primate populations is critical, given the well-documented relationship between stress, health, and reproduction. Although many primate studies have quantified fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentrations, it is imperative that researchers validate their method for each species. Here, we describe and validate a technique for field extraction and storage of FGMs in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Our method circumvents many of the logistical challenges associated with field studies while yielding similar results to a commonly used laboratory method. We further validate that our method accurately reflects stress physiology using an adrenocorticotropic hormone challenge in a captive chimpanzee and an FGM peak at parturition in a wild subject. Finally, we quantify circadian patterns for FGMs for the first time in this species. Understanding these patterns may allow researchers to directly link specific events with the stress response. Am. J. Primatol. 75:57-64, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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