Cortisol levels were examined in 17 cotton-top tamarin monkeys ( Saguinus oedipus ) to determine: (1) if first-morning void urine sampling could be used as a noninvasive method for monitoring cortisol excretion. (2) if capture and bleeding were associated with changes in urinary cortisol levels, (3) the relative cortisol levels in reproductively active and reproductively suppressed females, and (4) the relationship between cortisol levels and changes in social condition in cotton-up tamarins. Mean urinary cortisol levels during ovarian cycling did not differ between captured and bled females and undisturbed females. Mean cortisol levels were significantly lower in females who were housed in their natal groups and reproductively suppressed than in the same females when they were removed and placed adjacent to a novel male and ovarian cycling began. For all females, mean cortisol levels were higher during the periovulatory period than during the nonperiovulatory period of the ovulatory cycle, with mean cortisol levels higher in newly cycling females than in long-term cycling females. No differences were found in mean cortisol levels between long-term cycling females and prepubertal females and postpubertal natal females. Cortisol levels from long-term cycling females were much lower than during the first two to three ovarian cycles occurring in newly cycling female tamarins, during the last part of pregnancy, and during the first 6 weeks postpartum. These data provide evidence that (1) suppression of ovarian cycling in postpubertal females remaining in their natal family is not associated with stress-induced changes in cortisol levels. (2) cortisol levels are not strictly tied to reproductive condition, and (3) social change may be reflected in cortisol elevation.
Hormones and Behavior – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 1995
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