Effects of social tolerance on stress: hair cortisol concentrations in the tolerant Tonkean macaques (Macaca tonkeana) and the despotic long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis)

Baptiste Sadoughi, Laurent Lacroix, J. Colette Berbesque, Hélène Meunier, Julia Lehmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Group living is a source of stress and an individuals’ social environment has been shown to have a significant effect on its health and well-being. However, little is known about how different social organizations affect the stress levels of their members. Is living in a hierarchical society more or less stressful than living in a more tolerant structure? Here, we assess cortisol concentrations in the hair of two macaque species with radically different dominance styles: the egalitarian Tonkean macaque (Macaca Tonkeana) and the despotic long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis). Hair was sampled in winter and again in late spring in two mixed-sex groups of 22 Tonkean macaques and 9 long-tailed macaques; Hair cortisol concentrations were significantly higher in the egalitarian Tonkean macaques than in the despotic long-tailed macaques, ranging from 161.13 to 938.8 pg/mg (mean ± SD 349.67 ± 126.22) and from 134.46 to 339.86 pg/mg (mean ± SD 231.2 ± 44.24), respectively. There was no difference between male and female cortisol concentrations, but hair cortisol increased with age in males. Dominance rank certainty was lower among female Tonkean macaques compared to long-tailed macaques. Our results suggest that species differences in dominance styles may translate into differences in long-term cortisol concentrations. We suggest that the higher cortisol concentrations in Tonkean macaques could be linked to the instability and lack of predictability and control around social relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Early online date10 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021

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