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Horm Behav. 2010 Aug;58(3):378-84. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.03.020. Epub 2010 Apr 1.

The effect of pregnant and oestrous females on male testosterone and behaviour in the tammar wallaby.

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Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Tammar wallaby females (Macropus eugenii) are seasonally breeding marsupials with a post-partum oestrus after a highly synchronised birth period when testosterone concentrations rise in males. Chemical communication appears to be important for mating, as males show checking behaviour, sniffing the urogenital opening (UGO) and the pouch of females. This study investigates whether the presence of pregnant and oestrous females directly influences testosterone in males and if oestrous odours or secretion from the pouch or UGO are attractive. Concentrations of plasma testosterone were measured in males housed with pregnant and oestrous females during two consecutive cycles in the breeding season, and an artificially induced cycle in the non-breeding season. Males were also tested for their interest in swabs taken from the urogenital opening (UGO) or pouch of oestrous females. Testosterone increased sharply in males in the presence of pregnant and oestrous females during all cycles in both seasons, but there was no change when males were exposed to non-cycling females in lactational or seasonal diapause. Males had no preference for either oestrous or non-oestrous samples taken from the pouch or from the UGO from oestrous females. This study confirms that the increase in plasma testosterone in tammar males can be induced through the presence of pregnant and oestrous females, regardless of season and that the increase began when the females were in late-pregnancy. This confirms that the male's reproductive state is dependent on a signal from females and is not blocked through seasonal effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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