Functional Relationships between Estradiol and Paternal Care in Male, Red-Bellied Lemurs, Eulemur Rubriventer

32 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2022

See all articles by Stacey R. Tecot

Stacey R. Tecot

University of Arizona

Madalena Birr

University of Arizona

Juliana Dixon

University of Arizona

Jean Pierre Lahitsara

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dominique Razafindraibe

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Soafaniry Razanajatovo

University of Antananarivo

Alicia S. Arroyo

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Institute of Evolutionary Biology

Aimé Victor Tombotiana

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jean Baptiste Velontsara

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Andrea L. Baden

CUNY Hunter College

Abstract

Fathers contribute substantially to infant care, yet the mechanisms facilitating paternal bonding and interactions with infants are not as well understood as they are in mothers. Several hormonal changes occur as males transition into parenthood, first in response to a partner’s pregnancy, and next in response to interacting with the newborn. These changes may prepare fathers for parenting and help facilitate and maintain paternal care. Experimental studies with monkeys and rodents suggest that paternal care requires elevated estradiol levels, which increase when a male’s partner is pregnant and are higher in fathers than non-fathers, but its role in the expression of paternal behaviors throughout infant development is unknown. To assess estradiol’s role in paternal care, we analyzed the relationship between paternal estradiol metabolites and 1) offspring age, and 2) paternal care behavior (holding, carrying, huddling, playing, grooming), in wild, red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer). We collected 146 fecal samples and 1,597 hours of behavioral data on 10 adult males who had newborn infants during the study. Estradiol metabolites increased four-fold in expectant males, and in new fathers they fluctuated and gradually decreased. Infant age, not paternal behavior, best predicted hormone levels in new fathers. These results suggest that hormonal changes occur in expectant males with facultative paternal care, but they do not support the hypothesis that estradiol is directly associated with the day-to-day expression of paternal care. Future research should explore estradiol’s role in facilitating behaviors, including infant-directed attention and responsiveness, or preparing fathers for infant care generally.

Note:

Funding Information: This work was supported by The Leakey Foundation; University of Arizona Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute and School of Anthropology; American Association of Physical Anthropologists Professional Grant; Thomas A. Bogard Bequest Scholarship; Hunter College of City University of New York; and Rowe-Wright Primate Fund.

Declaration of Interests: None.

Ethics Approval Statement: This research was approved by the University of Arizona Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol 13-470) and Madagascar National Parks (055/15/MEEMEF/SG/DGF/DCB.SAP/ SCBSE), and adhered to the guidelines set forth by the American Society of Primatologists Principles for the Ethical Treatment of Non-Human Primates. It did not involve capture or handling of the study subjects, and study subjects were habituated or re-habituated prior to the start of field research.

Keywords: Estradiol, Paternal Care, Primate, Strepsirrhine, Allomaternal Care, Infant Care

Suggested Citation

Tecot, Stacey R. and Birr, Madalena and Dixon, Juliana and Lahitsara, Jean Pierre and Razafindraibe, Dominique and Razanajatovo, Soafaniry and Arroyo, Alicia S. and Tombotiana, Aimé Victor and Velontsara, Jean Baptiste and Baden, Andrea L., Functional Relationships between Estradiol and Paternal Care in Male, Red-Bellied Lemurs, Eulemur Rubriventer. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4239481 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4239481

Stacey R. Tecot (Contact Author)

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Madalena Birr

University of Arizona ( email )

Physics Department
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85718
United States

Juliana Dixon

University of Arizona ( email )

Physics Department
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85718
United States

Jean Pierre Lahitsara

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Dominique Razafindraibe

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Soafaniry Razanajatovo

University of Antananarivo ( email )

Madagascar

Alicia S. Arroyo

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Institute of Evolutionary Biology ( email )

Aimé Victor Tombotiana

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Jean Baptiste Velontsara

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Andrea L. Baden

CUNY Hunter College ( email )

695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
United States

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