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Early reproductive aging is a uniquely human trait

Author: Susan Alberts

A young female baboon in Amboseli

Our recent paper addresses the question of reproductive cessation in humans and other primates in PNAS. Reproductive aging in human females –  characterized by declining fertility in the 30’s, followed by complete reproductive cessation in mid-life – is an evolutionary puzzle because, all else being equal, mid-life reproductive cessation is inherently disadvantageous. One important question regarding the evolution of early reproductive aging is whether it is unique to humans or shared with other species. This has been the topic of much speculation but no definitive answer to this question has previously been available; comparative data from nonhuman primates are particularly important in answering this question because of the close phylogenetic relationship between humans and nonhuman primates. Read More

Social behavior influences gene expression

Author: Jenny Tung

Amboseli baboons

A baboon’s social life can have a powerful impact on how successful he or she is in life. We know from previous studies in Amboseli, for instance, that social status, social bonds, and social competition can be important in predicting health, survival, and reproductive success. Now, recent work by Dan Runcie and ABRP investigators has found that a baboon’s social environment can also influence how genetic differences affect gene expression, suggesting that gene regulation in Amboseli may often be subject to so-called gene-environment interactions. Read More

Grooming reduces tickload in wild baboons

Author: Mercy Akinyi

Grooming baboons

Grooming in non-human primates is mostly known to serve social functions like maintaining social bonds and reducing tension. However, researchers have long suspected that grooming can also reduce parasite loads. We recently published a paper Read More