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Impact of male presence on female sociality and stress endocrinology in wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus)


Weidt, Andrea; Gygax, Lorenz; Palme, Rupert; Touma, Chadi; König, Barbara (2018). Impact of male presence on female sociality and stress endocrinology in wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Physiology and Behavior, 189:1-9.

Abstract

In group living animals, reproductive competition plays an important role in shaping social relationships and associations among female group members. In this study, we investigated the impact of male presence on the development of female-female competition and female sociality in groups of female wild house mice, using physiological and behavioral parameters. We predicted that, by eliciting intra-sexual competition, males influence social relationships among female group members and thus affect female associations to potential cooperation partners. To test this hypothesis we compared stress hormone production, the frequency of agonistic interactions, social hierarchies and social partner preferences in groups of unrelated, unfamiliar females in the absence and presence of males. Our results revealed no indication that the introduction of males into all-female groups of wild house mice elicited increased competition among female group members, neither on the physiological nor on the behavioral level. We found no effect of male presence on female glucocorticoid secretion, aggression, dominance hierarchies or on the females' sociability. Females thus seem not to intensely compete over access to males. This female ability to behaviorally and physiologically deal with even previously unfamiliar same-sex group members may be an important feature of female house mouse societies. In fact, it could be a necessary prerequisite to establish cooperative relationships between females in the context of reproduction, such as communal nursing of young.

Abstract

In group living animals, reproductive competition plays an important role in shaping social relationships and associations among female group members. In this study, we investigated the impact of male presence on the development of female-female competition and female sociality in groups of female wild house mice, using physiological and behavioral parameters. We predicted that, by eliciting intra-sexual competition, males influence social relationships among female group members and thus affect female associations to potential cooperation partners. To test this hypothesis we compared stress hormone production, the frequency of agonistic interactions, social hierarchies and social partner preferences in groups of unrelated, unfamiliar females in the absence and presence of males. Our results revealed no indication that the introduction of males into all-female groups of wild house mice elicited increased competition among female group members, neither on the physiological nor on the behavioral level. We found no effect of male presence on female glucocorticoid secretion, aggression, dominance hierarchies or on the females' sociability. Females thus seem not to intensely compete over access to males. This female ability to behaviorally and physiologically deal with even previously unfamiliar same-sex group members may be an important feature of female house mouse societies. In fact, it could be a necessary prerequisite to establish cooperative relationships between females in the context of reproduction, such as communal nursing of young.

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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)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:1 May 2018
Deposited On:22 Nov 2018 13:15
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:51
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0031-9384
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.02.039

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