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Experimental increase of testosterone increases boldness and decreases anxiety in male African striped mouse helpers


Raynaud, Julien; Schradin, Carsten (2014). Experimental increase of testosterone increases boldness and decreases anxiety in male African striped mouse helpers. Physiology and Behavior, 129:57-63.

Abstract

Males of many species can adjust their behaviors to environmental conditions by changing reproductive tactics. Testosterone surges in adult breeding males typically inhibit the expression of paternal care while facilitating the expression of aggression during environmental changes. Similarly, in non-breeding philopatric males of cooperatively breeding species, up-regulation of testosterone may inhibit alloparental care while facilitating dispersal, i.e. males might become bolder and more explorative. We tested this hypothesis in philopatric male African striped mice, Rhabdomys pumilio. Striped mouse males can either remain in their natal group providing alloparental care or they can disperse seeking mating opportunities. Compared to philopatric males, dispersed males typically show higher testosterone levels and lower corticosterone levels, and more aggression towards pups and same sex conspecifics. We experimentally increased the testosterone levels of philopatric males kept in their family group when pups were present. Testosterone-treated males did not differ significantly from control males in alloparental care and in aggression toward same-sex conspecifics. Compared to control males, testosterone treated males were bolder, more active, less anxious; they also showed lower corticosterone levels. Philopatric males were sensitive to our testosterone treatment for dispersal- and anxiety-like behavior but insensitive for social behaviors. Our results suggest a role of testosterone in dispersal.

Abstract

Males of many species can adjust their behaviors to environmental conditions by changing reproductive tactics. Testosterone surges in adult breeding males typically inhibit the expression of paternal care while facilitating the expression of aggression during environmental changes. Similarly, in non-breeding philopatric males of cooperatively breeding species, up-regulation of testosterone may inhibit alloparental care while facilitating dispersal, i.e. males might become bolder and more explorative. We tested this hypothesis in philopatric male African striped mice, Rhabdomys pumilio. Striped mouse males can either remain in their natal group providing alloparental care or they can disperse seeking mating opportunities. Compared to philopatric males, dispersed males typically show higher testosterone levels and lower corticosterone levels, and more aggression towards pups and same sex conspecifics. We experimentally increased the testosterone levels of philopatric males kept in their family group when pups were present. Testosterone-treated males did not differ significantly from control males in alloparental care and in aggression toward same-sex conspecifics. Compared to control males, testosterone treated males were bolder, more active, less anxious; they also showed lower corticosterone levels. Philopatric males were sensitive to our testosterone treatment for dispersal- and anxiety-like behavior but insensitive for social behaviors. Our results suggest a role of testosterone in dispersal.

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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:2014
Deposited On:26 Nov 2014 15:11
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:32
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0031-9384
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.02.005
PubMed ID:24534177

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