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  1. The link between vocal communication and group-level cooperation is a shared feature of humans and chimpanzees.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 29, 2023
  2. Objectives: The causal impact method (CIM) was recently introduced for evaluation of binary interventions using observational time-series data. The CIM is appealing for practical use as it can adjust for temporal trends and account for the potential of unobserved confounding. However, the method was initially developed for applications involving large datasets and hence its potential in small epidemiological studies is still unclear. Further, the effects that measurement error can have on the performance of the CIM have not been studied yet. The objective of this work is to investigate both of these open problems. Methods: Motivated by an existing dataset of HCV surveillance in the UK, we perform simulation experiments to investigate the effect of several characteristics of the data on the performance of the CIM and extend the method to deal with this problem. Results: We identify multiple characteristics of the data that affect the ability of the CIM to detect an intervention effect including the length of time-series, the variability of the outcome and the degree of correlation between the outcome of the treated unit and the outcomes of controls. We show that measurement error can introduce biases in the estimated intervention effects and heavily reduce the powermore »of the CIM. Using an extended CIM, some of these adverse effects can be mitigated. Conclusions: The CIM can provide satisfactory power in public health interventions. The method may provide misleading results in the presence of measurement error.« less
  3. Sex differences in physical aggression occur across human cultures and are thought to be influenced by active sex role reinforcement. However, sex differences in aggression also exist in our close evolutionary relatives, chimpanzees, who do not engage in active teaching, but do exhibit long juvenile periods and complex social systems that allow differential experience to shape behavior. Here we ask whether early life exposure to aggression is sexually dimorphic in wild chimpanzees and, if so, whether other aspects of early sociality contribute to this difference. Using 13 y of all-occurrence aggression data collected from the Kanyawara community of chimpanzees (2005 to 2017), we determined that young male chimpanzees were victims of aggression more often than females by between 4 and 5 (i.e., early in juvenility). Combining long-term aggression data with data from a targeted study of social development (2015 to 2017), we found that two potential risk factors for aggression—time spent near adult males and time spent away from mothers—did not differ between young males and females. Instead, the major risk factor for receiving aggression was the amount of aggression that young chimpanzees displayed, which was higher for males than females throughout the juvenile period. In multivariate models, sex didmore »not mediate this relationship, suggesting that other chimpanzees did not target young males specifically, but instead responded to individual behavior that differed by sex. Thus, social experience differed by sex even in the absence of explicit gender socialization, but experiential differences were shaped by early-emerging sex differences in behavior.

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  4. Serrano, Emmanuel (Ed.)
  5. Abstract Is it possible to slow the rate of ageing, or do biological constraints limit its plasticity? We test the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis, which posits that the rate of ageing is relatively fixed within species, with a collection of 39 human and nonhuman primate datasets across seven genera. We first recapitulate, in nonhuman primates, the highly regular relationship between life expectancy and lifespan equality seen in humans. We next demonstrate that variation in the rate of ageing within genera is orders of magnitude smaller than variation in pre-adult and age-independent mortality. Finally, we demonstrate that changes in the rate of ageing, but not other mortality parameters, produce striking, species-atypical changes in mortality patterns. Our results support the invariant rate of ageing hypothesis, implying biological constraints on how much the human rate of ageing can be slowed.
  6. Abstract Background

    Social isolation is a key risk factor for the onset and progression of age-related disease and mortality in humans. Nevertheless, older people commonly have narrowing social networks, with influences from both cultural factors and the constraints of senescence. We evaluate evolutionarily grounded models by studying social aging in wild chimpanzees, a system where such influences are more easily separated than in humans, and where individuals are long-lived and decline physically with age.


    We applied social network analysis to examine age-related changes in social integration in a 7+ year mixed-longitudinal dataset on 38 wild adult chimpanzees (22 females, 16 males). Metrics of social integration included social attractivity and overt effort (directed degree and strength), social roles (betweenness and local transitivity) and embeddedness (eigenvector centrality) in grooming networks.


    Both sexes reduced the strength of direct ties with age (males in-strength, females out-strength). However, males increased embeddedness with age, alongside cliquishness. These changes were independent of age-related changes in social and reproductive status. Both sexes maintained highly repeatable inter-individual differences in integration, particularly in mixed-sex networks.

    Conclusions and implications

    As in humans, chimpanzees appear to experience senescence-related declines in social engagement. However, male social embeddedness and overall sex differences were patterned more similarlymore »to humans in non-industrialized versus industrialized societies. Such comparisons suggest common evolutionary roots to ape social aging and that social isolation in older humans may hinge on novel cultural factors of many industrialized societies. Lastly, individual and sex differences are potentially important mediators of successful social aging in chimpanzees, as in humans.

    Lay summary: Few biological models explain why humans so commonly have narrowing social networks with age, despite the risk factor of social isolation that small networks pose. We use wild chimpanzees as a comparative system to evaluate models grounded in an evolutionary perspective, using social network analysis to examine changes in integration with age. Like humans in industrialized populations, chimpanzees had lower direct engagement with social partners as they aged. However, sex differences in integration and older males’ central positions within the community network were more like patterns of sociality in several non-industrialized human populations. Our results suggest common evolutionary roots to human and chimpanzee social aging, and that the risk of social isolation with age in industrialized populations stems from novel cultural factors.

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  7. Cortisol, a key product of the stress response, has critical influences on degenerative aging in humans. In turn, cortisol production is affected by senescence of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, leading to progressive dysregulation and increased cortisol exposure. These processes have been studied extensively in industrialized settings, but few comparative data are available from humans and closely related species living in natural environments, where stressors are very different. Here, we examine age-related changes in urinary cortisol in a 20-y longitudinal study of wild chimpanzees (n= 59 adults) in the Kanyawara community of Kibale National Park, Uganda. We tested for three key features of HPA aging identified in many human studies: increased average levels, a blunted diurnal rhythm, and enhanced response to stressors. Using linear mixed models, we found that aging was associated with a blunting of the diurnal rhythm and a significant linear increase in cortisol, even after controlling for changes in dominance rank. These effects did not differ by sex. Aging did not increase sensitivity to energetic stress or social status. Female chimpanzees experienced their highest levels of cortisol during cycling (versus lactation), and this effect increased with age. Male chimpanzees experienced their highest levels when exposed to sexually attractivemore »females, but this effect was diminished by age. Our results indicate that chimpanzees share some key features of HPA aging with humans. These findings suggest that impairments of HPA regulation are intrinsic to the aging process in hominids and are side effects neither of extended human life span nor of atypical environments.

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