They say it’s lonely at the top. And for the alpha male, despite more available food and wimmins, it’s evidently just as stressful as it is at the bottom.
The AFP reports that a nine-year Princeton study on wild baboons say that the top-ranking members of the group have similar stress to the lowest ranking members and that the guys in the middle have the least stress of the three, according to measurements of testosterone and glucocorticoid, a stress hormone.
“Samples were taken from the feces of the wild male baboon population in Amelosi, Kenya,” says the AFP. Howdja like that job?
James Gorman of The New York Times writes that the alpha male baboons stress, according to researchers, “was probably because of the demands of fighting off challengers and guarding access to fertile females. Beta males, who fought less and had considerably less mate-guarding to do, had much lower stress levels. They had fewer mating opportunities than the alphas, but they did get some mating in, more than any lower-ranking males. After all, when the alpha gets in another baboon bar fight, who’s going to take the girl home?”
The health effects are unclear for the baboons, Gorman says, while for humans, chronically high stress levels has an adverse effect on health.