Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Jessica A. Mayhew

Second Committee Member

April K. Binder

Third Committee Member

Mrinalini Watsa


This thesis is composed of one journal-ready article and one chapter that includes a preliminary interpretation of data for later publication. In summary, this thesis proposes the use of three different methods of evaluating the health status of New World Monkeys: urinary neopterin measurement, blood chemistry analyses, and urinalysis. Chapter II addresses the question of whether or not the neopterin molecule, a biomarker for cell-mediated immune system activation, is conserved across primate taxa. To do so, we collected urine samples across three New World Monkey (NWM) families including captive Leontopithecus rosalia and Pithecia pithecia, and wild populations of Leontocebus weddelli, Saguinus imperator, Alouatta seniculus, and Plecturocebus toppini, to validate a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for neopterin. To accommodate the use of this assay across a wide range of equipment and primate species, we assessed a range of variations in test conditions most likely encountered in field conditions. Urinary neopterin concentration (UNC) was successfully quantified in all species across several wavelengths. However, from wild populations, we did not observe uniformity in UNC trends at each wavelength across the four species, and thus to evaluate species differences in immune function, we suggest that average levels be determined using a standardized wavelength. Our results indicate that neopterin, a valuable non-invasive biomarker for assessing immune status, appears valid in NWMs both in captivity and in the field. Chapter III establishes the baseline values of blood chemistry and urinalysis parameters for wild S. imperator and L. weddelli using the Keto-Mojo device and multi-reagent urinary dipsticks. We propose that these affordable point-of-care methods of health assessment are effective ways of establishing baseline health data to facilitate future health monitoring initiatives in wild primate populations in the Neotropics. Notably, we found that the Keto-Mojo reliably produced accurate results for blood chemistry parameters when samples were run multiple times. We also found that urinalysis results were not influenced by variation in time elapsed between sample collection and urinalysis over a 12-hour period. These findings suggest that these point-of-care methods of evaluating non-human primate health are affordable, efficient, and ideal for researchers working in remote areas to conduct onsite health monitoring.



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