Testosterone pulses at the nest site modify ultrasonic vocalization types in a monogamous and territorial 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 )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Modulation of baseline testosterone (T) via long-lasting T implants alters territorial, sexual, and social behavior of animals in the field. Transient T increases occur in numerous species after social interactions, but these transient increases in T have not been manipulated in the field. In the laboratory, these T increases can influence future behavior for days, causing changes in social behavior and inducing preferences for specific locations. We manipulated transient increases in T in the field at the nests of the monogamous and territorial California mouse (Peromyscus californicus) to examine long-term (>24 hr) changes in ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs). Males of bonded male–female dyads (=pair) were administered a T injection (vs. saline) three times over seven days and USVs of the male–female dyad were measured for three days after the last injection. At T nests, the male–female dyad produced significantly more 1SV (one call SV: an SV is a sustained vocalization that is long in duration and low in modulation) and 4SV (four call SV) type USVs than controls, but no significant changes in aggressive barks. Overall, male–female dyad mice at T nests produced a greater diversity in call types such that 1SV, 4SV, 5SV, and a complex sweep were produced at T nests but not control nests. There were significantly more USVs produced at T nests on night 2 after the final injection. There were no differences in spectral characteristics of SV calls or aggressive barks between T and control nests. The function of the changes that occurred is unknown, but is consistent with increased long-term changes in behavioral interactions with nest mates and may reflect T-induced conditioned place preferences to the nest site. Significantly, transient increases in T influence future acoustic communication under field conditions with competing biotic and abiotic stimuli.

Additional Information

Ethology 124(11): 804-815
Language: English
Date: 2018
androgens, conditioned place preference, field, male-female dyad, pair bond, Peromyscus californicus, social behavior, vocal communication

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