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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2011

Authors: Marasco, V; Fusani, L; Dessì-Fulgheri, F; Canoine, V

Title: Non-migratory stonechats show seasonal changes in the hormonal regulation of non-seasonal territorial aggression.

Source: Horm Behav. 2011; 60(4):414-419

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Fusani Leonida
Marasco Valeria

In many birds and mammals, male territorial aggression is modulated by elevated circulating concentrations of the steroid hormone testosterone (T) during the breeding season. However, many species are territorial also during the non-breeding season, when plasma T levels are basal. The endocrine control of non-breeding territorial aggression differs considerably between species, and previous studies on wintering birds suggest differences between migratory and resident species. We investigated the endocrine modulation of territorial aggression during the breeding and non-breeding season in a resident population of European stonechats (Saxicola torquata rubicola). We recorded the aggressive response to a simulated territorial intrusion in spring and winter. Then, we compared the territorial aggression between seasons and in an experiment in which we blocked the androgenic and estrogenic action of T. We found no difference in the aggressive response between the breeding and the non-breeding season. However, similarly to what is found in migratory stonechats, the hormonal treatment decreased aggressive behaviors in resident males in the breeding season, whereas no effects were recorded in the non-breeding season. When we compared the aggressive responses of untreated birds with those obtained from migratory populations in a previous study, we found that territorial aggression of resident males was lower than that of migratory males during the breeding season. Our results show that in a resident population of stonechats T and/or its metabolites control territorial aggression in the breeding but not in the non-breeding season. In addition, our study supports the hypothesis that migratory status does modulate the intensity of aggressive behavior.

Keywords Pubmed: Aggression/drug effects
Androgen Antagonists/administration & dosage
Androgen Antagonists/pharmacology
Animal Migration/drug effects
Animal Migration/physiology
Aromatase Inhibitors/administration & dosage
Aromatase Inhibitors/pharmacology
Behavior, Animal/drug effects
Behavior, Animal/physiology
Drug Implants
Flutamide/administration & dosage
Nesting Behavior/drug effects
Nesting Behavior/physiology
Pair Bond

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