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European robins (Erithacus rubecula) lack an increase in testosterone during simulated territorial intrusions

Scriba, Madeleine F., Goymann, Wolfgang
Journal für Ornithologie 2010 v.151 no.3 pp. 607-614
aggression, birds, blood sampling, breeding, breeding season, males, monogamy, prediction, radioimmunoassays, testosterone
The challenge hypothesis (Wingfield et al. in Am Nat 136:829-846, 1990) predicts that circulating testosterone increases when socially monogamous male birds are challenged during breeding. Although the challenge hypothesis has been confirmed in large-scale interspecific comparisons of seasonal hormone profiles, experimental tests of the challenge hypothesis are still uncommon and the results equivocal. We tested one of the predictions of the challenge hypothesis by investigating the behavioural and hormonal response of free-living European robins during simulated territorial intrusions (STIs) in the breeding season. We conducted STIs by placing a stuffed decoy in a territory and playing robin song. After the behaviour of the focal male had been recorded for at least 10 min, it was captured and a blood sample was taken immediately. Controls were caught within 10 min of the first response of the territory owner. Hormone concentrations were measured by radio-immunoassay. Although previous studies have shown that testosterone has an impact on aggression, European robins do not respond to STIs by increasing circulating levels of testosterone.