Sources of variation in hair cortisol in wild and captive non-human primates.

TitleSources of variation in hair cortisol in wild and captive non-human primates.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsFourie, NH, Brown, JL, Jolly, CJ, Phillips-Conroy, JE, Rogers, J, Bernstein, RM
JournalZoology (Jena)
Date Published2016 Apr
KeywordsAge Factors, Animals, Animals, Wild, Animals, Zoo, Chemistry Techniques, Analytical, Female, Hair, Hydrocortisone, Male, Primates, Sex Factors, Sonication

Hair cortisol analysis is a potentially powerful tool for evaluating adrenal function and chronic stress. However, the technique has only recently been applied widely to studies of wildlife, including primates, and there are numerous practical and technical factors that should be considered to ensure good quality data and the validity of results and conclusions. Here we report on various intrinsic and extrinsic sources of variation in hair cortisol measurements in wild and captive primates. Hair samples from both wild and captive primates revealed that age and sex can affect hair cortisol concentrations; these effects need to be controlled for when making comparisons between individual animals or populations. Hair growth rates also showed considerable inter-specific variation among a number of primate species. We describe technical limitations of hair analyses and variation in cortisol concentrations as a function of asynchronous hair growth, anatomical site of collection, and the amount and numbers of hair/s used for cortisol extraction. We discuss these sources of variation and their implications for proper study design and interpretation of results.

Alternate JournalZoology (Jena)
PubMed ID26884274

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