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Behav Neurosci. 2018 Feb;132(1):34-50. doi: 10.1037/bne0000225.

Effects of arginine vasopressin on Richardson's ground squirrel social and vocal behavior.

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Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology and Behavior, Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba.


In nearly every vertebrate species examined thus far arginine vasopressin (AVP) and its homologues modulate behavior; thus, providing rich systems for comparative research. In rodents, AVP is best known for its modulation of social behavior; however, to date, research on AVPs effects on behavior have been limited to laboratory models and a few experiments using large outdoor enclosures. To extend our understanding of AVPs role in modulating social behavior and communication in an ecologically relevant context, we examined the effects of AVP on behavior of free-living Richardson's ground squirrels (Urocitellus richardsonii). To test the hypothesis that AVP influences social behavior and communication, we implanted osmotic minipumps into Richardson's ground squirrels and centrally administered AVP or saline as a control. Three different behavioral experiments quantifying behavior before and after AVP or saline administration were performed: a general behavior survey, a predator model presentation, and a social challenge test. AVP administration increased male vocalization rate when approached by a conspecific, but not when presented with a predator model. In males, social aggression decreased, but antipredator vigilance increased with AVP administration. Finally, AVP-treated females had increased "anxiety-like" behaviors during the social challenge test. Our data reveal that AVP has sex-specific effects on vocalizations and antipredator vigilance, as well as other social behaviors. Further, our data illustrate the importance of social context to AVPs modulation of behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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