• Endocrine correlates of reproductive status in breeding and nonbreeding wild female Moustached Tamarins

      Löttker, Petra; Huck, Maren; Heymann, Eckhard W.; Heistermann, Michael; Abteilung Soziobiologie, Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Göttingen, Germany; Institut für Neuro- und Verhaltensbiologie, Abteilung Verhaltensbiologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany; Lehrstuhl für Verhaltensforschung, Universität Bielefeld, Germany; Abteilung Reproduktionsbiologie, Deutsches Primatenzentrum Göttingen, Germany (2004-08)
      In callitrichid primates, reproduction is usually restricted to a single female per group. Reproductive rate is high and the occurrence of a postpartum estrus can lead to simultaneous lactation and pregnancy. In contrast, nonreproductive females often show ovarian inactivity. However, most studies on callitrichid reproductive physiology have been conducted in captivity, where conditions differ considerably from those in the wild, so that reproductive conditions may be strongly modified. Using fecal estrogen and progestogen measurements to monitor female reproductive status in 2 groups of wild moustached tamarins (Saguinus mystax), we examined 1) whether reproductive females in free-ranging groups also show postpartum estrus and 2) whether nonreproductive females demonstrate signs of ovarian activity. In both reproductive females, clear changes in the excretion pattern of progestogen and estrogen metabolites over time in combination with information on parturition dates allowed us to differentiate between pregnancy, a period of postpartum ovarian inactivity lasting for 54 and 64–82 days, and a period of ovarian activity before conception. Nonreproductive females demonstrated temporal fluctuations in hormone concentrations and absolute hormone levels that were similar to ones in the breeding females during the phase of ovarian activity. The results suggest that, in contrast to most captive female tamarins, reproductive females in wild groups of moustached tamarins do not have a postpartum estrus and that nonreproductive females show ovarian activity despite the presence of a breeding female.We therefore conclude that findings from captivity should be only carefully compared to the situation in the wild.