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Anim Behav. 1998 Jun;55(6):1411-20.

Behavioural and hormonal responses of the pied flycatcher to environmental stressors.

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1
Department of Zoology, University of Göteborg

Abstract

I investigated the effects of high plasma levels of corticosterone in male pied flycatchers, Ficedula hypoleuca, during the period of territorial establishment and the nestling period. In a second experiment males were exposed to a territorial intruder, a great spotted woodpecker model and a weasel model during the nest-building and nestling periods and their behavioural and hormonal reactions studied. Males were also exposed to handling stress (hormonal study) during these periods. During the period of territorial establishment, corticosterone-treated males, as well as control males, abandoned the territory in which they were captured; however, males in both groups very soon established new territories. During the nestling period, corticosterone-treated males, but not control males, abandoned their nests. During the nest-building period, intact males frequently attacked the territorial intruder but corticosterone-treated males never did; the woodpecker was only rarely attacked by intact males, and the weasel never. During the nestling period, the weasel was not attacked and territorial intruders only rarely; but woodpeckers were frequently attacked. With the progress of the breeding season, male flycatchers significantly reduced their sensitivity, in terms of the adrenocortical response, to all stressors tested. During the nest-building period, corticosterone levels were significantly higher in males exposed to handling, a weasel and a territorial intruder than in unmanipulated males; corticosterone levels in males exposed to a woodpecker did not differ from those in unmanipulated males; and testosterone levels were significantly elevated in males exposed to a woodpecker and to an intruder, but were reduced in males exposed to a weasel. Handling did not affect the testosterone level. During the nestling period, all groups showed low testosterone levels, and only exposure to a weasel and to handling increased corticosterone levels significantly. The results indicate that environmentally induced changes in testosterone and corticosterone secretion can be affected independently from one another, and that there are ecological bases for the differentiated hormonal responses to stress. Copyright 1998 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Copyright 1998 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

PMID:
9641986
DOI:
10.1006/anbe.1997.0717
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