Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

The ecology of stress: Linking life-history traits with physiological control mechanisms in free-living guanacos (#733)

Ramiro J.A. Ovejero A. 1 2 3 , Antonella Panebianco 2 , Pablo Gregorio 2 , Antonella Marozzi 2 , Leonardo Leggieri 2 , Graciela A Jahn 4 , Mauricio Soto-Gamboa 1 , Andrés Novaro 5 , Pablo Carmanchahi 2
  1. Laboratorio de Ecología Conductual, Instituto de Ciencias Ambientales y Evolutivas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Los Ríos Region, Chile
  2. Grupo de Investigación de Eco-fisiología de Fauna Silvestre (GIEFAS), Asentamiento Universitario de San Martín de los Andes (AUSMA), Universidad Nacional del Comahue (CONICET-PATAGONIA NORTE-INIBIOMA -AUSMA-UNCo) , Neuquén, Argentina
  3. , Laboratorio de Interacciones Ecológicas, Instituto Argentino de investigaciones de zonas áridas ((LIE) IADIZA-CCT-MENDOZA ), Mendoza, Argentina
  4. Laboratorio de Reproducción y Lactancia, IMBECU- CCT-CONICET-MENDOZA, Mendoza, Argentina
  5. Programa Estepa-Andino Patagonica, CONICET-PATAGONIA NORTE-INIBIOMA, Neuquen, Junin de Los Andes, Argentina

In vertebrates, a key response to life's challenges is the activation of the stress (HPA) and gonadal (HPG) axes. Much of the interest in stress ecology is motivated by the desire to understand the physiological mechanisms by which the environment affects fitness. In both social and non-social animals, the frequency and type of interaction with conspecifics, as well as the status in social species, can affect HPA axis activity, resulting in changes in the reproductive success of animals. We predict that social environment can affect both guanaco axes by increasing the secretion of testosterone (T) and glucocorticoids (GCs) in response to individual social interactions and the energetic demands of breeding. Assuming that prolonged elevated levels of GCs over time can be harmful to individuals, it is predicted that the HPA axis suppresses the HPG axis and causes T levels to decrease, as GCs increase. All of the data for individuals were collected by non-invasive methods (faecal samples) to address hormonal activities. As expected, there was a marked adrenal and gonadal response due to seasonal variation in Lama guanicoe. The marked endocrine and gonadal response due to seasonal variation in male guanaco individuals highlights the individual’s energetic demands according to life-history strategies. Finally, the dataset was used to build a reactive scope model for guanacos. Guanacos cope with the trade-off between sociability and reproductive benefits and costs, by regulating their GCs and T levels on a seasonal basis, suggesting an adaptive role of both axes to different habitat pressures.