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Proc Biol Sci. 2008 May 7;275(1638):1047-52. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0004.

Differences in prolactin levels between three alternative male reproductive tactics in striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio).

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  • Department of Animal Behavior, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland. carsten.schradin@zool.uzh.ch


In male fishes, birds and mammals, increased prolactin secretion is thought to play a role in species showing paternal behaviours. This hypothesis was investigated in the striped mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio). This paper compares serum prolactin levels in 71 free-living male striped mice following three different reproductive tactics: (i) paternal group-living breeders, (ii) alloparental philopatric group-living males, and (iii) roaming non-paternal solitary males. Prolactin levels of breeding males were significantly higher than that of roamers. Alloparental philopatric males had low prolactin levels, which concur with studies of cooperatively breeding mammals, but contrasts with studies of cooperatively breeding birds. Both breeding males and females showed a decrease in prolactin levels after the breeding season, but not alloparental philopatric males. Prolactin levels were correlated with neither corticosterone levels nor age. These results are in agreement with the hypothesis that prolactin is one proximate mechanism of male reproductive tactics, possibly regulating differences in male parental care.

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