Alternative reproductive tactics in female striped mice: solitary breeders have lower corticosterone levels than communal breeders

DL Hill, N Pillay, C Schradin

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5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs), where members of the same sex and population show distinct reproductive phenotypes governed by genetically-based decision-rules, have been well-documented in males of many species, but are less well understood in females. The relative plasticity hypothesis (RPH) predicts that switches between plastic ARTs are regulated by changes in steroid hormones. This has received much support in males, but little is known about the endocrine control of female ARTs. Here, using a free-living population of African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) over five breeding seasons, we tested whether females following different tactics differed in corticosterone and testosterone levels, as reported for male striped mice using ARTs, and in progesterone and oestrogen, which are important in female reproduction. Female striped mice employ three ARTs: communal breeders give birth in a shared nest and provide alloparental care, returners leave the group temporarily to give birth, and solitary breeders leave to give birth and do not return. We expected communal breeders and returners to have higher corticosterone, owing to the social stress of group-living, and lower testosterone than solitary breeders, which must defend territories alone. Solitary breeders had lower corticosterone than returners and communal breeders, as predicted, but testosterone and progesterone did not differ between ARTs. Oestrogen levels were higher in returners (measured before leaving the group) than in communal and solitary breeders, consistent with a modulatory role. Our study demonstrates hormonal differences between females following (or about to follow) different tactics, and provides the first support for the RPH in females.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 9
Number of pages9
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume71
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 2015

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corticosterone
mice
testosterone
estrogens
progesterone
steroid hormones
breeding season
plastics
nests
phenotype
gender

Bibliographical note

1023320

Keywords

  • Cooperative breeding
  • Endocrinology
  • Estrogen
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Plural breeding
  • Single breeder
  • Social environment
  • Social flexibility
  • Social organization
  • Sociality

Cite this

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title = "Alternative reproductive tactics in female striped mice: solitary breeders have lower corticosterone levels than communal breeders",
abstract = "Alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs), where members of the same sex and population show distinct reproductive phenotypes governed by genetically-based decision-rules, have been well-documented in males of many species, but are less well understood in females. The relative plasticity hypothesis (RPH) predicts that switches between plastic ARTs are regulated by changes in steroid hormones. This has received much support in males, but little is known about the endocrine control of female ARTs. Here, using a free-living population of African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) over five breeding seasons, we tested whether females following different tactics differed in corticosterone and testosterone levels, as reported for male striped mice using ARTs, and in progesterone and oestrogen, which are important in female reproduction. Female striped mice employ three ARTs: communal breeders give birth in a shared nest and provide alloparental care, returners leave the group temporarily to give birth, and solitary breeders leave to give birth and do not return. We expected communal breeders and returners to have higher corticosterone, owing to the social stress of group-living, and lower testosterone than solitary breeders, which must defend territories alone. Solitary breeders had lower corticosterone than returners and communal breeders, as predicted, but testosterone and progesterone did not differ between ARTs. Oestrogen levels were higher in returners (measured before leaving the group) than in communal and solitary breeders, consistent with a modulatory role. Our study demonstrates hormonal differences between females following (or about to follow) different tactics, and provides the first support for the RPH in females.",
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Alternative reproductive tactics in female striped mice: solitary breeders have lower corticosterone levels than communal breeders. / Hill, DL; Pillay, N; Schradin, C.

In: Hormones and Behavior, Vol. 71, 2015, p. 1 - 9.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Alternative reproductive tactics in female striped mice: solitary breeders have lower corticosterone levels than communal breeders

AU - Hill, DL

AU - Pillay, N

AU - Schradin, C

N1 - 1023320

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - Alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs), where members of the same sex and population show distinct reproductive phenotypes governed by genetically-based decision-rules, have been well-documented in males of many species, but are less well understood in females. The relative plasticity hypothesis (RPH) predicts that switches between plastic ARTs are regulated by changes in steroid hormones. This has received much support in males, but little is known about the endocrine control of female ARTs. Here, using a free-living population of African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) over five breeding seasons, we tested whether females following different tactics differed in corticosterone and testosterone levels, as reported for male striped mice using ARTs, and in progesterone and oestrogen, which are important in female reproduction. Female striped mice employ three ARTs: communal breeders give birth in a shared nest and provide alloparental care, returners leave the group temporarily to give birth, and solitary breeders leave to give birth and do not return. We expected communal breeders and returners to have higher corticosterone, owing to the social stress of group-living, and lower testosterone than solitary breeders, which must defend territories alone. Solitary breeders had lower corticosterone than returners and communal breeders, as predicted, but testosterone and progesterone did not differ between ARTs. Oestrogen levels were higher in returners (measured before leaving the group) than in communal and solitary breeders, consistent with a modulatory role. Our study demonstrates hormonal differences between females following (or about to follow) different tactics, and provides the first support for the RPH in females.

AB - Alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs), where members of the same sex and population show distinct reproductive phenotypes governed by genetically-based decision-rules, have been well-documented in males of many species, but are less well understood in females. The relative plasticity hypothesis (RPH) predicts that switches between plastic ARTs are regulated by changes in steroid hormones. This has received much support in males, but little is known about the endocrine control of female ARTs. Here, using a free-living population of African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) over five breeding seasons, we tested whether females following different tactics differed in corticosterone and testosterone levels, as reported for male striped mice using ARTs, and in progesterone and oestrogen, which are important in female reproduction. Female striped mice employ three ARTs: communal breeders give birth in a shared nest and provide alloparental care, returners leave the group temporarily to give birth, and solitary breeders leave to give birth and do not return. We expected communal breeders and returners to have higher corticosterone, owing to the social stress of group-living, and lower testosterone than solitary breeders, which must defend territories alone. Solitary breeders had lower corticosterone than returners and communal breeders, as predicted, but testosterone and progesterone did not differ between ARTs. Oestrogen levels were higher in returners (measured before leaving the group) than in communal and solitary breeders, consistent with a modulatory role. Our study demonstrates hormonal differences between females following (or about to follow) different tactics, and provides the first support for the RPH in females.

KW - Cooperative breeding

KW - Endocrinology

KW - Estrogen

KW - Glucocorticoid

KW - Plural breeding

KW - Single breeder

KW - Social environment

KW - Social flexibility

KW - Social organization

KW - Sociality

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DO - 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.03.004

M3 - Article

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EP - 9

JO - Hormones and Behavior

JF - Hormones and Behavior

SN - 0018-506X

ER -