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Horm Behav. 2008 Apr;53(4):573-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Jan 26.

Seasonal changes in testosterone and corticosterone levels in four social classes of a desert dwelling sociable rodent.

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1
Department of Animal Behavior, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Abstract

Animals have to adjust their physiology to seasonal changes, in response to variation in food availability, social tactics and reproduction. I compared basal corticosterone and testosterone levels in free ranging striped mouse from a desert habitat, comparing between the sexes, breeding and philopatric non-breeding individuals, and between the breeding and the non-breeding season. I expected differences between breeders and non-breeders and between seasons with high and low food availability. Basal serum corticosterone was measured from 132 different individuals and serum testosterone from 176 different individuals of free living striped mice. Corticosterone and testosterone levels were independent of age, body weight and not influenced by carrying a transmitter. The levels of corticosterone and testosterone declined by approximately 50% from the breeding to the non-breeding season in breeding females as well as non-breeding males and females. In contrast, breeding males showed much lower corticosterone levels during the breeding season than all other classes, and were the only class that showed an increase of corticosterone from the breeding to the non-breeding season. As a result, breeding males had similar corticosterone levels as other social classes during the non-breeding season. During the breeding season, breeding males had much higher testosterone levels than other classes, which decreased significantly from the breeding to the non-breeding season. My results support the prediction that corticosterone decreases during periods of low food abundance. Variation in the pattern of hormonal secretion in striped mice might assist them to cope with seasonal changes in energy demand in a desert habitat.

PMID:
18279873
DOI:
10.1016/j.yhbeh.2008.01.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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