Summary. Pheromonal signals from the dominant female marmoset monkey were implicated in maintaining the suppression of LH secretion and ovulation in socially subordinate females. When subordinate, and reproductively suppressed, female marmoset monkeys were removed from their group without scent contact with their dominant females, subordinate females in control group 1 (N = 8) and control group 2 (N = 5), ovulated 10·8 ± 1·4 days and 10·4 ± 0·8 days respectively (mean ± s.e.m.) after separation. Subordinate females (N = 8) removed from their dominant female and group, but maintained in scent contact only with their dominant females, showed a delay in the onset of ovulation (31·0 ± 6·4 days) compared with control groups 1 and 2. Plasma LH concentrations of subordinate females during the scent transfer phase were lower than in controls without scent transfer and comparable to those seen whilst the females were subordinates in groups. Contact of subordinate females with olfactory stimuli from dominant females therefore maintains the suppression of both LH secretion and ovulation in socially subordinate female marmosets. Such pheromonal cues provide evidence of a quantifiable link between dominant female marmosets and the maintenance of physiological suppression of reproduction in their female subordinates.
Keywords: marmoset; reproductive suppression; pheromones; ovulation; progesterone