Physiological challenges for baboons in anthropogenic landscapes

The physiological responses that animals exhibit to the myriad stressors in their environment can be useful for assessing the state of their health, well-being, and even survival capability. Although the stress response is adaptive in many cases, prolonged exposure to stressors, if accompanied by chronically elevated glucocorticoids, can have deleterious consequences on animals and may in fact be maladaptive. Unlike most primates which are adapted to living in the tropics, chacma baboons in the Cape Peninsula of South Africa, with its wet winters and dry summers, are unusual in simultaneously experiencing extremes of both temperature and rainfall as well as shortened day length in the winter. Additionally, the baboons reside in close proximity to humans and their habitat includes a mosaic of natural and anthropogenic landscapes with spatial overlap with humans, which often leads to interactions and conflict with humans. In this talk, I will discuss the effects of these environmental and anthropogenic challenges on the physiology and behavior of females in three groups of chacma baboons.