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Horm Behav. 2005 Sep;48(3):259-67.

Winning fights elevates testosterone levels in California mice and enhances future ability to win fights.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The 'winner effect' has been studied in a variety of species, but only rarely in mammals. We compared effects of winning three, two, one, or zero resident-intruder encounters on the likelihood of winning a subsequent aggressive encounter in the California mouse (Peromyscus californicus). During the training phase, we ensured that resident males won all encounters by staging contests with mildly sedated, smaller intruders. During the test phase, the resident male encountered an unfamiliar, more evenly matched intruder that had experience winning an encounter and was larger than the resident. Testosterone (T) plasma levels significantly increased after the final test when they had experienced two prior winning encounters, and the probability of winning a future encounter increased significantly after three prior wins independent of intrinsic fighting ability. We hypothesize a 'winner-challenge' effect in which increased T levels serve to reinforce the winner effect in male California mice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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