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Urinary Testosterone Metabolite Levels in Bonobos: A Comparison with Chimpanzees in Relation to Social System

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[Bonobo (Pan paniscus) social structure is characterized by partial female dominance, in contrast to the male dominated chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) society. Furthermore, female bonobos exhibit more overt aggressiveness and a prolonged period of proceptivity during menstrual cycle compared to chimpanzees. Since dominance, aggressiveness and proceptivity are suggested to relate to high T levels, we expected T concentrations of bonobo females to be high. To test this, urinary T metabolite concentrations (measured by immunoreactive 5αandrostane-17α-ol-3-one) were determined, which reliably reflect T status in both species. We predicted a larger overlap between T metabolite concentrations of both sexes in bonobos compared to chimpanzees. Our results support this hypothesis. However, interspecific comparison for each sex revealed substantially lower T metabolite concentrations in bonobo males than in chimpanzee males, while female bonobos displayed levels about equal to those of chimpanzee females. It thus appears that low T metabolite levels in bonobo males are responsible for the large overlap instead of high T metabolite levels in bonobo females. In conclusion, this study suggests that quantitative sex differences in T levels may be predictive of social system. However, partial female dominance in bonobos is probably not mediated by high female T levels. Rather it appears that T levels of mainly male bonobos are adapted to social organization. We hope that these preliminary results ignite further research in this novel area., Bonobo (Pan paniscus) social structure is characterized by partial female dominance, in contrast to the male dominated chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) society. Furthermore, female bonobos exhibit more overt aggressiveness and a prolonged period of proceptivity during menstrual cycle compared to chimpanzees. Since dominance, aggressiveness and proceptivity are suggested to relate to high T levels, we expected T concentrations of bonobo females to be high. To test this, urinary T metabolite concentrations (measured by immunoreactive 5αandrostane-17α-ol-3-one) were determined, which reliably reflect T status in both species. We predicted a larger overlap between T metabolite concentrations of both sexes in bonobos compared to chimpanzees. Our results support this hypothesis. However, interspecific comparison for each sex revealed substantially lower T metabolite concentrations in bonobo males than in chimpanzee males, while female bonobos displayed levels about equal to those of chimpanzee females. It thus appears that low T metabolite levels in bonobo males are responsible for the large overlap instead of high T metabolite levels in bonobo females. In conclusion, this study suggests that quantitative sex differences in T levels may be predictive of social system. However, partial female dominance in bonobos is probably not mediated by high female T levels. Rather it appears that T levels of mainly male bonobos are adapted to social organization. We hope that these preliminary results ignite further research in this novel area.]

10.1163/156853903322149504
/content/journals/10.1163/156853903322149504
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853903322149504
2003-05-01
2017-03-26

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