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Response of testosterone and corticosterone plasma levels to the challenge of sibling competition: A study in common terns

Braasch, A., Becker, P. H. & Groothuis, T. G. G., 1-Aug-2014, In : General and Comparative Endocrinology. 204, p. 95-103 9 p.

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  • Response of testosterone and corticosterone plasma levels to the challenge

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DOI

The hormonal response to social challenges has been widely studied, however, most work focused on adult behavior in a reproductive context although developing animals also encounter important social challenges early in life. We studied the relationship between acute sibling competition and plasma corticosterone (CURT) and testosterone (T) in common tern (Sterna hirundo) chicks, a species whose young compete for access to food by scramble interactions. Blood samples were taken in nests with two and only one single chick both immediately after a feeding bout and in non-challenged controls. We found that T levels were lower in siblings challenged by a feeding bout as compared to controls, which may be explained by the fact that T suppresses begging behavior and is only elevated in response to territorial intrusion but not sibling competition in a related species. Singletons had, corrected for body condition, generally lower CURT levels than siblings suggesting that growing up with siblings creates a competitive environment in which high CURT levels are sustained irrespective of a social challenge. CURT levels were also negatively correlated with body condition and were higher in males than in females. The latter may be related to sex-specific food requirements and susceptibility to stress. Our results suggest a possible suppressive effect of acute sibling competition on T secretion, and a positive effect on CURT levels by longer term sibling competition. The degree to which these dynamics are related to begging or aggression, or both, needs further experimental work. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Volume204
Publication statusPublished - 1-Aug-2014

    Keywords

  • Begging behavior, Aggression, Hatching order, Sibling rivalry, Dominance hierarchy, CHICKENS GALLUS-DOMESTICUS, LEGGED KITTIWAKE CHICKS, HEADED GULL CHICKS, STERNA-HIRUNDO, BEGGING BEHAVIOR, PIED FLYCATCHER, STRESS-RESPONSE, HATCHING ORDER, BODY CONDITION, ADRENOCORTICAL-RESPONSE

ID: 32425186