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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2013 Aug 1;189:59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.04.031. Epub 2013 May 4.

Sex steroid hormones modulate responses to social challenge and opportunity in males of the monogamous convict cichlid, Amatitliana nigrofasciata.

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Section of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Steroid hormones play an important role in modulating behavioral responses to various social stimuli. It has been suggested that variation in the hormonal regulation of behavior across species is associated with social organization and/or mating system. In order to further elucidate the interplay of hormones and behavior in social situations, we exposed males of the monogamous convict cichlid Amatitliana nigrofasciata to three social stimuli: gravid female, intruder male, and a nonsocial stimulus. We used a repeated measure design to create behavioral profiles and explore how sex steroid hormones respond to and regulate social behavior. Results show distinct behavioral responses to different social situations, with circulating 11-ketotestosterone increasing in response to social stimuli. Pharmacological manipulations using specific androgen and estrogen receptor agonists and antagonists exposed complex control over digging behavior in the social opportunity context. In the social challenge context, aggressive behaviors decreased in response to blocking the androgen receptor pathway. Our results extend our understanding of sex steroid regulation of behavioral responses to social stimulation.

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