Comparative Stress Response of Black and Gold Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya) in Urban and Rural Environments of Northern Argentina

Folia Primatol (Basel). 2021;92(4):227-234. doi: 10.1159/000518719. Epub 2021 Sep 6.


The expansion of human populations associated with urbanization results in extensive modification of natural habitats. While many species cannot persist in these highly modified environments, some species adopt new strategies, which contribute to their survival. Several primate species have persisted in altered habitats, including members of the genus Alouatta. To improve our understanding of this interplay, we compared glucocorticoid (GCC) levels in male and female black and gold howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya) in urban and rural areas in northeastern Argentina. Fecal samples (n = 60) were collected from adults and hormone extracts were analyzed by enzyme immunoassays (EIA). Monkeys living in urban areas (females: 109.15 ± 18.83; males: 106.15 ± 10.48) had lower GCClevels than monkeys living in rural areas (females: 152.01 ± 19.50; males:139,82 ± 10.85). Interestingly, males living in urban areas had lower GCC levels compared to those living in rural areas, whereas no differences were observed in GCC levels between females living in urban and rural areas. While these results suggest that urban areas may provide a release from intergroup competition for male howler monkeys, future work is needed to better understand the dynamics of this association to best inform management and conservation of this vulnerable species.

Keywords: Endocrinology; Glucocorticoids; Neotropical primates; Urban areas.

Publication types

  • News

MeSH terms

  • Alouatta caraya*
  • Alouatta*
  • Animals
  • Argentina
  • Ecosystem
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Male