Hormonal regulation of social ascent and temporal patterns of behavior in an African cichlid

Hormones and Behavior
Beau A AlwardRussell D Fernald


For many species, social rank determines which individuals perform certain social behaviors and when. Higher ranking or dominant (DOM) individuals maintain status through aggressive interactions and perform courtship behaviors while non-dominant (ND) individuals do not. In some species ND individuals ascend (ASC) in social rank when the opportunity arises. Many important questions related to the mechanistic basis of social ascent remain to be answered. We probed whether androgen signaling regulates social ascent in male Astatotilapia burtoni, an African cichlid whose social hierarchy can be readily controlled in the laboratory. As expected, androgen receptor (AR) antagonism abolished reproductive behavior during social ascent. However, we discovered multiple AR- and status-dependent temporal behavioral patterns that typify social ascent and dominance. AR antagonism in ASC males increased the time between successive behaviors compared to DOM males. Socially ascending males, independent of AR activation, were more likely than DOM males to follow aggressive displays with another aggressive display. Further analyses revealed differences in the sequencing of aggressive and courtship behaviors, wherein DOM males were more likely than...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Aggressive Behavior
Androgen Effect
Harassment, Non-Sexual
Social Dominance
Oreochromis niloticus
Organic Chemicals

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