Social and developmental influences on reproductive function in female wied's black tufted-ear marmosets (Callithrix kuhli)

Tessa E. Smith, Colleen M. Schaffner, Jeffrey A. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Although marmoset social groups may contain multiple adult females, reproduction is typically limited to one breeding female. A variety of endocrine and behavioral mechanisms have been identified that regulate fertility among female marmosets. In the present study, we assessed the mechanism(s) by which fertility is regulated in female black tufted-ear marmosets, Callithrix kuhli. The reproductive status of 10 daughters aged 2- 24 months was evaluated by measuring concentrations of urinary pregnane-diol 3α glucuronide (PdG) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Concentrations of the two hormones were typically low in daughters less than 12 months of age, and the profiles suggested anovulation (mean PdG < 2 μg/mg Cr and mean LH < 6 ng/mg Cr). Concentrations of PdG rose dramatically in females older than 12 months. Eight subadult daughters commenced ovulatory function while still living with their family, and the remaining two failed to ovulate. The onset of ovarian function coincided with a change in the social environment in two females, but the remaining six females commenced spontaneous ovarian activity that was not associated with any social or environmental factor (mean age: 15.6 ± 1.6 months). Ovulatory function was monitored in five daughters while housed in their natal family group, while removed from the natal family group and housed singly, and while paired with an unrelated and unfamiliar male. The ovarian cycles of these females housed in the natal group were characterized by significantly shorter luteal phases and reduced PdG concentrations, relative to when the females were housed on their own, and relative to adult breeding females (n = 6). Stimulatory cues from unfamiliar males were not necessary to trigger regular ovarian function in females. In this species, the regulation of fertility in daughters is a complex combination of behavioral and endocrine factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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