Brief communication: female fecal androgens prior to the mating season reflect readiness to conceive in reproductively quiescent wild macaques

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2013 Jun;151(2):311-5. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22273. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


An extensive body of research exists on androgen secretion in males. Although androgens are also known to drive patterns of female reproductive physiology and behavior, little attention has been paid to these "male" hormones in females. Here, we examined female fecal androgen excretion in strictly seasonally breeding wild Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis) and tested the hypothesis that changes in premating season fecal androgens vary with female readiness to resume ovarian cycling and thus to conceive. Across 2 years, 155 fecal samples were collected from seven reproductively quiescent (i.e., acyclic) females during the premating season months, August and September. Samples were analyzed for immunoreactive epiandrosterone (iEA), a major fecal metabolite of testosterone in macaques. Changes in iEA concentrations during the premating season were significantly negatively associated with (1) the presence of dependent offspring, i.e., lactating females showed a smaller change, and (2) with the timing of conceptions in the mating seasons, i.e., females that conceived early exhibited the greatest changes. These results provide strong evidence for a relationship between changes in androgens during the premating season and female readiness to conceive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / analysis*
  • Androsterone / analysis
  • Animals
  • Anthropology, Physical
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Macaca / metabolism*
  • Macaca / physiology
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Seasons
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Social Dominance


  • Androgens
  • Androsterone