The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Cross-comparison of the use of ketones and urinary C-Peptide of insulin as a means of assessing energetic status in wild bonobos (Pan paniscus); Iyema Forest, DRCongo


Anthropology Department, Emory University

Friday 2:15-2:30, Ballroom C Add to calendar

Assessment of energetic status in wild primates is a challenging, but useful endeavor when investigating behavioral and reproductive ecology. Urinary “chemstrips” are a relatively cheap means of ascertaining basic and broad health indicators within minutes of urine collection. In particular, the ability to measure urinary ketones is of interest since the presence of ketones is an indication of energetic stress. However, the efficacy of these strips in detecting ketones has been called to question in the absence of positive results across time and multiple studies and species.

Here, I compare the results of urinary ketones with levels of urinary C-peptide of insulin collected from wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) as a means of cross-methodological validation. Ketones reflect energetic stress, while urinary C-peptide of insulin reflects the recent presence of insulin in the blood stream, suggesting energetic surplus. Fresh urine samples were collected between August 2010 and June 2011 from a semi-habituated community of wild bonobos at the Iyema study site, DRCongo. Samples were tested the day of collection for ketones and other biomarkers, and remaining urine was preserved on filter paper (Whatman 903 Protein Saver Cards) for analysis at Emory University. Results are compared against phenological data taken during corresponding months, representing seasonal patterns of 1805 individuals from 45 species of trees and lianes.

The results from this study reflect the significance of using multiple measures in the process of assessing health status in complex, free-ranging (and in this case, endangered) primates.

This project was funded by the Leakey Foundation, USFWS Great Ape Conservation Fund, and Emory University Anthropology Department

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