Organizational and activational androgens, lemur social play, and the ontogeny of female dominance.
The role of androgens in shaping "masculine" traits in males is a core focus in behavioral endocrinology, but relatively little is known about an androgenic role in female aggression and social dominance. In mammalian models of female dominance, including the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), links to androgens in adulthood are variable. We studied the development of ring-tailed lemurs to address the behavioral basis and ontogenetic mechanisms of female dominance. We measured behavior and serum androgen concentrations in 24 lemurs (8 males, 16 females) from infancy to early adulthood, and assessed their 'prenatal' androgen milieu using serum samples obtained from their mothers during gestation. Because logistical constraints limited the frequency of infant blood sampling, we accounted for asynchrony between behavioral and postnatal hormone measurements via imputation procedures. Imputation was unnecessary for prenatal hormone measurements. The typical sex difference in androgen concentrations in young lemurs was consistent with adult conspecifics and most other mammals; however, we found no significant sex differences in rough-and-tumble play. Female (but not male) aggression increased beginning at approximately 15 months, coincident with female puberty. In our analyses relating sexually differentiated behavior to androgens, we found no relationship with activational hormones, but several significant relationships with organizational hormones. Notably, associations of prenatal androstenedione and testosterone with behavior were differentiated, both by offspring sex and by type of behavior within offspring sexes. We discuss the importance of considering (1) missing data in behavioral endocrinology research, and (2) organizational androgens other than testosterone in studies of female dominance.
Grebe, NM; Fitzpatrick, C; Sharrock, K; Starling, A; Drea, CM
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