Up to the challenge? Hormonal and behavioral responses of free-ranging male Cassin's Sparrows, Peucaea cassinii, to conspecific song playback

Pierre Deviche, Peter J. Sharp, Alistair Dawson, John Sabo, Bobby Fokidis, Scott Davies, Lori Hurley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Challenge Hypothesis postulates that male vertebrates can respond to social challenges, such as simulated territorial intrusions, by rapidly increasing their concentrations of plasma androgens, such as testosterone (T). This increase may facilitate the expression of aggressive behavior and lead to persistence of this behavior even after withdrawal of the challenge, thus potentially promoting territoriality and the probability of winning future challenges. The scope of the Challenge Hypothesis was tested by exposing free-ranging male Cassin's Sparrows, Peucaea cassinii, to conspecific song playback (SPB) at the beginning of the vernal nesting season. Exposure to SPB stimulated aggressive behavior but did not influence plasma T. Furthermore, plasma T did not correlate with the duration of exposure to SPB, and the behavioral response to SPB did not differ in males that were challenged a second time shortly after the first challenge. As birds were investigated at a stage of their reproductive cycle when plasma T is presumably seasonally high due to photostimulation, the lack of hormonal response to SPB may have been due to the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis secreting hormones at maximum rates. This was not the case, however, because administration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone I rapidly stimulated the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and T, and treatment with ovine LH rapidly stimulated T secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-749
Number of pages9
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume61
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Challenge Hypothesis
  • GnRH
  • Hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Seasonality
  • Song playback
  • Songbird
  • Stress
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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