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Steroid hormones in hair reveal sexual maturity and competition in wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus)


Carlitz, Esther H D; Runge, Jan-Niklas; König, Barbara; Winkler, Lennart; Kirschbaum, Clemens; Gao, Wei; Lindholm, Anna K (2019). Steroid hormones in hair reveal sexual maturity and competition in wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Scientific Reports, 9:16925.

Abstract

Endocrine data from wild populations provide important insight into social systems. However, obtaining samples for traditional methods involves capture and restraint of animals, and/or pain, which can influence the animal’s stress level, and thereby undesirable release of hormones. Here, we measured corticosterone, testosterone and progesterone in the hair of 482 wild-derived house mice that experienced sexual competition while living under semi-natural conditions. We tested whether sex, age, weight and indicators of sexual maturity, reproduction and social conflicts predict hormone concentrations measured in hair (sampling at endpoint). We show that body weight, sex and age significantly predict cumulative testosterone and progesterone levels, allowing the differentiation between subadults and adults in both sexes. Corticosterone was only slightly elevated in older males compared to older females and increased with the level of visible injuries or scars. Testosterone in males positively correlated with body weight, age, testes size, and sperm number. Progesterone in females significantly increased with age, body weight, and the number of embryos implanted throughout life, but not with the number of litters when controlled for age and weight. Our results highlight the biological validity of hair steroid measurements and provide important insight into reproductive competition in wild house mice.

Abstract

Endocrine data from wild populations provide important insight into social systems. However, obtaining samples for traditional methods involves capture and restraint of animals, and/or pain, which can influence the animal’s stress level, and thereby undesirable release of hormones. Here, we measured corticosterone, testosterone and progesterone in the hair of 482 wild-derived house mice that experienced sexual competition while living under semi-natural conditions. We tested whether sex, age, weight and indicators of sexual maturity, reproduction and social conflicts predict hormone concentrations measured in hair (sampling at endpoint). We show that body weight, sex and age significantly predict cumulative testosterone and progesterone levels, allowing the differentiation between subadults and adults in both sexes. Corticosterone was only slightly elevated in older males compared to older females and increased with the level of visible injuries or scars. Testosterone in males positively correlated with body weight, age, testes size, and sperm number. Progesterone in females significantly increased with age, body weight, and the number of embryos implanted throughout life, but not with the number of litters when controlled for age and weight. Our results highlight the biological validity of hair steroid measurements and provide important insight into reproductive competition in wild house mice.

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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:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:1 December 2019
Deposited On:17 Dec 2019 15:13
Last Modified:22 Dec 2019 07:02
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53362-4
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A-160328
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A-176114/1
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderDFG
  • : Grant IDCA 1870/1-1
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderClaraz Stuftung
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title

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