Herrington, J. A., Del Rosso, L. A., Capitanio, J. P. 2016. Biobehavioral consequences of prenatal exposure to a matrilineal overthrow and relocation in captive infant rhesus (Macaca mulatta) monkeys. American Journal of Primatology 78(9), 895-903.
There is a general consensus that perinatal experiences help to shape infant behavior; however, relatively little is known about the effects of prenatal experience on postnatal phenotype in non‐human primates. The current study sought to take advantage of a naturally occurring incident in a captive population of rhesus monkeys. Following a matrilineal overthrow in an outdoor field cage, pregnant female rhesus macaques were relocated from outdoor to indoor housing. Using data collected from the California National Primate Research Center's Biobehavioral Assessment Program, we assessed infants born to mothers that were in their first or second trimester of pregnancy during the overthrow and relocation, and compared their data with that of animals from two control groups born in the same year: indoor mother raised infants and field cage reared infants. Our results suggest that the experience of an overthrow and relocation during the first trimester elevated postnatal emotional responsiveness, while the same experience in the second trimester resulted in modified HPA axis regulation, elevated glucocorticoid output following maternal separation, and lower hematocrit levels compared to control groups. These data add to a growing body of literature that prenatal experiences represent a significant contribution to postnatal phenotypic variability. Findings such as ours have implications for studies in captive management and the management of captive rhesus monkey populations.