Group-level competition influences urinary steroid hormones among wild red–tailed monkeys, indicating energetic costs

Adrian V. Jaeggi, Benjamin C. Trumble, Michelle Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Various theories emphasize that intergroup competition should affect intragroup cooperation and social relationships, especially if the cost of intergroup competition outweighs that of intragroup competition. This cost of intergroup competition may be quantified by changes in physiological status, such as in the steroid hormones cortisol (C) and testosterone (T), which rise or are depressed during periods of energetic stress, respectively. Here we tested for changes in urinary C and T after intergroup encounters (IGEs) among wild red-tailed monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius), a species that experiences frequent intergroup feeding competition, at the Ngogo station in Kibale National Park, Uganda. We assayed 108 urine samples, of which 36 were collected after IGEs, from 23 individuals in four social groups. Bayesian multilevel models controlling for various confounds revealed that IGEs increased C and decreased T relative to baseline, consistent with an energetic cost to IGEs. The C change was more apparent in samples collected early after IGEs, suggesting an anticipatory increase, whereas the T change was stronger in later samples, suggesting sustained energetic trade-offs. Hormone responses were not affected by the IGE outcome. This cost to intergroup competition, together with little evidence for intragroup competition in redtails and other guenons, establishes an interesting test case for theories emphasizing the effect of intergroup competition on intragroup cooperation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22757
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • behavioral endocrinology
  • between-group competition
  • cooperation
  • guenons
  • parochial altruism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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