Energy balance but not competitive environment corresponds with allostatic load during development in an Old World monkey

Nicole A. Thompson, James P. Higham, Michael Heistermann, Erin Vogel, Marina Cords

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Primates develop slowly relative to their body size, a pattern posited to result from ecological risk aversion. Little is known, however, about how energy balance contributes to allostatic load in juveniles. Using data collected over 8 consecutive months, we examined variation in energy balance (as measured by urinary C-peptide) and how energy balance, life history status, and social competition related to allostatic load (as measured by deviation from baseline fecal glucocorticoid metabolites, dfGCs) in 41 wild juvenile blue monkeys from 3 social groups. Juvenile energy balance was higher among females, older juveniles, when ripe fruit was more available, and when rainfall was lower. Energy balance, but not life history or competitive environments, predicted dfGC concentrations, such that juveniles generally had lower mean dfGCs when they had higher energy balance. An additional exploratory analysis of how dfGCs relate to social strategies revealed that subjects had lower dfGCs when they groomed less, and played more. Time spent grooming interacted with energy balance in predicting dfGC concentrations, so that individuals that groomed more actually had higher dfGCs when they had higher energy balance. Together these results reveal that energetic deficiencies are a true ecological risk factor in blue monkeys, and suggest that navigating the social environment via overt affiliative behavior is potentially both a stress-relieving and stress-inducing endeavor during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104664
JournalHormones and Behavior
StatePublished - Mar 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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