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Testosterone levels in dominant sociable males are lower than in solitary roamers. Physiological differences between three male reproductive tactics in a sociably flexible mammal


Schradin, C; Scantlebury, M; Pillay, N; König, B (2009). Testosterone levels in dominant sociable males are lower than in solitary roamers. Physiological differences between three male reproductive tactics in a sociably flexible mammal. American Naturalist, 173(3):376-388.

Abstract

The relative plasticity hypothesis predicts that alternative tactics are associated with changes in steroid hormone levels. In species with alternative male reproductive tactics, the highest androgen levels have usually been reported in dominant males. However, in sociable species, dominant males show amicable behaviors to gain access to females, which might conflict with high testosterone levels. We compared testosterone, corticosterone and resting metabolic rate in male striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) following a conditional strategy with three different reproductive tactics: (i) philopatric group-living males, (ii) solitary living roamers, (iii) dominant but sociable group-living territorial breeders. Philopatrics had the lowest testosterone but highest corticosterone levels, suggesting that they make the best of a bad job. Dominant territorial breeders had lower testosterone levels than roamers, which have a lower competitive status. Roamers had the highest testosterone levels, which might promote risky behavior, such as invading territories defended by territorial males. Roamers also had lower resting metabolic rates than either type of group-living males. Our results suggest that dominant males` testosterone levels reflect a trade-off between low testosterone amicable behavior and high testosterone dominance behavior.

Abstract

The relative plasticity hypothesis predicts that alternative tactics are associated with changes in steroid hormone levels. In species with alternative male reproductive tactics, the highest androgen levels have usually been reported in dominant males. However, in sociable species, dominant males show amicable behaviors to gain access to females, which might conflict with high testosterone levels. We compared testosterone, corticosterone and resting metabolic rate in male striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) following a conditional strategy with three different reproductive tactics: (i) philopatric group-living males, (ii) solitary living roamers, (iii) dominant but sociable group-living territorial breeders. Philopatrics had the lowest testosterone but highest corticosterone levels, suggesting that they make the best of a bad job. Dominant territorial breeders had lower testosterone levels than roamers, which have a lower competitive status. Roamers had the highest testosterone levels, which might promote risky behavior, such as invading territories defended by territorial males. Roamers also had lower resting metabolic rates than either type of group-living males. Our results suggest that dominant males` testosterone levels reflect a trade-off between low testosterone amicable behavior and high testosterone dominance behavior.

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49 citations in Web of Science®
49 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:17 Mar 2009 14:33
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:59
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
Additional Information:2008 by The American Naturalist
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/596535
PubMed ID:19199528

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