Testosterone elevation and response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone challenge by male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) following aggressive behavior

M. Susan DeVries, University of Southern Mississippi
Caitlin P. Winters, University of Southern Mississippi
Jodie M. Jawor, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

There is much discrepancy about the relationship between testosterone (T) and male aggressive behavior. For example, in birds, males of many species significantly elevate T levels during inter-male conflict. However, this is not universal, and in species where males typically do not elevate T during aggressive interactions, concentrations of the hormone are often assumed to be circulating at maximum levels. We examined if male northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) significantly elevated T during simulated territorial intrusions (STIs). We also examined if individuals had the capacity to further elevate T levels in response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) injections immediately after an aggressive encounter. Our results indicate that male cardinals do not significantly elevate T levels in response to 5115, but have the physiological capacity to significantly elevate T in response to GnRH injections following aggressive interactions. This implies that T levels of individuals captured during SIN were not at maximum concentrations. However, additional findings in this study also suggest the possibility that prolonged social instablity could elicit significant elevations in T in males of this species, warranting further investigation. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.