Monday, April 08, 2013

Power Struggles Are Best Kept out of the Public Eye: Audiences Influence Future Status of Quails Following Fights Between Rivals

For animals, prevailing in a fight affects their likelihood of winning future conflicts. The opposite is true of losing a fight. The sex hormone testosterone is often believed to mediate this "winner effect." Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen have examined whether the presence of an audience influences the behaviour and the testosterone changes of Japanese quails (Coturnix japonica) after a fight. The evidence shows that both winners and losers exhibit raised testosterone levels after a conflict without an audience. Furthermore, both winners and losers are able to maintain their social status within their group. With an audience, on the other hand, this remained true for winners, but was not the case for losers: those who had lost had neither raised testosterone levels nor were they able to maintain their dominant status within the group. Thus, informed audiences determine the future social status of a male, while testosterone plays a secondary role. more

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