In most bird species, male courtship behavior is controlled by testosterone (T) and its metabolites. In species breeding in temperate and arctic regions T circulates at high levels during a relatively short courtship period because high levels of T can be costly in terms of immunocompetence and parental care. Few studies have investigated androgen modulation of courtship behavior in tropical birds. Male golden-collared manakins (Manacus vitellinus) aggregate in leks for several months and perform spectacular, acrobatic courtship displays. Here we examined whether T is elevated in golden-collared manakins during the displaying period and if courtship behavior is modulated by androgen action on androgen receptors. We measured T levels in displaying males at the beginning of the breeding season and again, one month later. In addition, both wild and captive males were treated with the anti-androgen, flutamide, and their courtship behavior was recorded for several weeks. T levels were relatively high shortly after leks were established but decreased substantially a month later, even though the amount of courtship did not change. Flutamide reduced male courtship activity for one week, but display behavior then increased after two weeks of flutamide treatment. Our studies show that androgens modulate male manakin courtship, but the amount of courtship is not directly correlated with the concentration of circulating T. These results suggest that the relationships between androgen and courtship might differ between tropical and temperate birds.
Animals Courtship* Drug Implants Female Flutamide/administration & dosage Flutamide/pharmacology Male Passeriformes/physiology* Seasons Sexual Behavior, Animal*/drug effects Testosterone/administration & dosage Testosterone/antagonists & inhibitors Testosterone/blood Testosterone/physiology*