Testosterone positively associated with both male mating effort and paternal behavior in savanna baboons (Papio cynocephalus)
Onyango, Patrick Ogola
Gesquiere, Laurence R
Alberts, Susan C
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Testosterone (T) is often positively associated with male sexual behavior and negatively associated with paternal care. These associations have primarily been demonstrated in species where investment in paternal care begins well after mating activity is complete, when offspring are hatched or born. Different patterns may emerge in studies of species where investment in mating and paternal care overlap temporally, for instance in non-seasonal breeders in which males mate with multiple females sequentially and may simultaneously have multiple offspring of different ages. In a 9-year data set on levels of T in male baboons, fecal concentrations of T (fT) were positively associated with both mate guarding (“consortship”) — a measure of current reproductive activity — and with the number of immature offspring a male had in his social group — a measure of past reproductive activity and an indicator of likely paternal behavior. To further examine the relationship between T and potential paternal behavior, we next drew on an intensive 8-month study of male behavior, and found that fathers were more likely to be in close proximity to their offspring than expected by chance. Because male baboons are known to provide paternal care, and because time in proximity to offspring would facilitate such care, this suggests that T concentrations in wild male baboons may be associated with both current reproductive activity and with current paternal behavior. These results are consistent with the predicted positive association between T and mating effort but not with a negative association between T and paternal care; in male baboons, high levels of T occur in males that are differentially associating with their offspring.