Behaviour 2019
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Intergenerational fitness effects of early adversity in a wild primate: behavioral mechanisms
Matthew N Zipple1, Chelsea A Southworth2, Stefanie P Clinton3, Jenny Tung3, Elizabeth A Archie2, Jeanne Altmann4, Susan C Alberts3. 1Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States; 2University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, United States; 3Duke University, Durham, NC, United States; 4Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States

Adverse physical and social conditions experienced in early life can have lifelong consequences for individuals’ health, reproduction, and survival. We have recently showed that in several populations of wild primates, the harmful effects of early adversity cascade from one generation to the next, reducing survival of offspring that did not experience the early adversity directly. In this paper, we seek to identify the social and behavioral mechanisms by which these intergenerational effects of early adversity are mediated in a population of wild baboons. After collecting more than 600 hours of detailed behavioral data from mother-infant pairs, we find that offspring born to high-adversity mothers are exposed to relatively many adult males in the earliest months of life. Exposure to adult males, in turn, is associated with infants spending less time on the nipple, being farther from their mother, being more active, and being engaged in more frequent social interactions (both positive and negative). Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that differences in social environment and behavior mediate the intergenerational effects of early adversity.