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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2006 Jun;147(2):184-9. Epub 2006 Feb 13.

Male 11-ketotestosterone levels change as a result of being watched in Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens.

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Department of Psychology, University of New England, Biddeford, ME 04005, USA.


This study investigated the effects of nesting status and the presence of an audience on 11-ketotestosterone (11KT) levels in male Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens. Prior studies have demonstrated that both nesting status, an indicator of territory-holding power and reproductive state, and the sex of a conspecific audience lead to differences in male behavior during aggressive encounters. Since behavioral changes have already been demonstrated, we chose to investigate whether 11KT levels were also influenced by nesting status and audience presence as 11KT both stimulates, and is stimulated by, reproductive and aggressive behaviors in male teleosts. Male 11KT levels were measured from water samples taken from containers holding fish both before and after interaction. Males interacted under three treatment conditions: no audience, female audience, and male audience. Within these treatments were two nest paradigms: both males had nests or neither male had a nest. 11KT levels varied depending on nesting status and audience type. In general, 11KT levels were lower in interacting males when a female audience was present or when males had nests. Overall, 11KT showed increases or decreases as aggression increased or decreased, as shown by already established behavioral findings [see Dzieweczynski T.L., Green T.M., Earley R.L., Rowland W.J., 2005. Audience effect is context dependent in Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens. Behav. Ecol. 16, 1025-1030; Doutrelant, C., McGregor, P.K., Oliveira, R.F., 2001. Effect of an audience on intrasexual communication in male Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens). Behav. Ecol. 12, 283-286.]. Our results suggest that 11KT levels are influenced by reproductive status, as indicated by nest ownership, and audience presence and are most likely modulated by territorial behavior and social environment.

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