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Urinary Androgens, Dominance Hierarchies, and Social Group Structure among Wild Male Mountain Gorillas

Urinary Androgens, Dominance Hierarchies, and Social Group Structure among Wild Male Mountain Gorillas

Chapter:
(p.137) 6 Urinary Androgens, Dominance Hierarchies, and Social Group Structure among Wild Male Mountain Gorillas
Source:
Chimpanzees in Context
Author(s):
Stacy RosenbaumRachel SantymireTara S. Stoinski
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226728032.003.0006

In many species androgens (e.g. testosterone) play an important role in male-male competition, mediating both intra- and inter-group competitive relationships. The connection between competition and androgens has been relatively well-studied in the genus Pan, but less so in other great apes. This chapter examines the relationship between urinary androgen metabolites (UAM) and dominance rank, as well as social group structure, in wild male mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei). Data from two different time periods indicate there is no clear relationship between UAM and rank in this species. Instead, they suggest that any such connection might be mediated by the social dynamics among group members, including dominance hierarchy stability and/or the security of the dominant male’s tenure. There was also no clear relationship between UAM concentrations and social group structure. Males in multi- and single-male groups had similar concentrations, though very preliminary data suggest that solitary males might have lower UAM levels than their group-dwelling peers. Thus, there is weak support for the hypothesis that male mountain gorillas’ intrasexual competition is mediated by baseline androgen levels. They may therefore have more in common with bonobos (Pan paniscus) than chimpanzees (P. troglodytes) on this dimension, despite their extreme adaptations for male-male contest competition.

Keywords:   testosterone, intrasexual competition, challenge hypothesis, great ape, rank, social relationships, enzyme immunoassay, radioimmunoassay, Gorilla beringei

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