Male fidelity expressed through rapid testosterone suppression of ultrasonic vocalizations to novel females in the monogamous California mouse

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matina C. Kalcounis-Rüppell, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The steroid hormone testosterone (T) is a well-known mediator of male sexual behavior in vertebrates. However, less is known about T's rapid effects on sexual behavior, particularly those involving ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs), a mode of communication that can influence mate acquisition in rodents. Using the monogamous California mouse, Peromyscus californicus, we tested whether T rapidly alters male USV production by giving T or saline injections to non-paired (sexually naïve) males and paired (paternally experienced and pair-bonded) males immediately prior to a brief exposure to an unrelated, novel female. Among non-paired males, no differences in the total number of USVs were observed; however, T increased the proportion of simple sweeps produced. Among paired males, T decreased the number of USVs produced, and this change was driven by a reduction in simple sweeps. These results suggest a differential rapid effect of T pulses between non-paired and paired males upon exposure to a novel female. Additionally, we observed a positive correlation in the production of USVs made between males and novel females, and this relationship was altered by T. Given the importance of USVs in sexual communication, our study supports an essential concept of monogamy in that mate fidelity is reinforced by decreased responsiveness to prospective mates outside of the pair bond. The central mechanism in pair bonded males that decreases their responsiveness to novel females appears to be one that T can trigger. This is among the first studies to demonstrate that T can inhibit sexually related behaviors and do so rapidly.

Additional Information

Hormones and Behavior, 70, 47-56
Language: English
Date: 2015
Monogamy, Mate fidelity, USVs, Ultrasonic vocalizations, Testosterone, California mouse, Peromyscus californicus, Infidelity, Rodent, Extra-pair

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