Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 166, Issue 2, pp 189–194

Changes in plasma levels of testosterone during male-male interactions in the song sparrow, Melospiza melodia: time course and specificity of response

  • John C. Wingfield
  • Masaru Wada

DOI: 10.1007/BF00193463

Cite this article as:
Wingfield, J.C. & Wada, M. J Comp Physiol A (1989) 166: 189. doi:10.1007/BF00193463


Previous investigations have shown that malemale interactions over territory boundaries result in an increase in plasma levels of testosterone (T). In order to determine the time course of this increase following an agonistic challenge, male song sparrows, Zonotrichia (= Melospiza) melodia, were exposed to simulated territorial intrusions. Responding males were captured at intervals after onset of the intrusion for up to 60 min. Plasma levels of T were elevated by 10 min after onset of the challenge, and remained high in birds sampled 10–60 min after onset of the intrusion. In addition, plasma levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) increased and were significantly elevated after 10 min of stimulation. The results suggest that at least the prolonged elevation of T secretion precipitated by a male-male interaction was mediated via an increase in LH release. However, the initial surge of T levels in plasma may be LH independent. p Investigations of captive birds confirmed that circulating LH and T levels increased when male song sparrows were challenged by a conspecific male. Challenges involving a male house sparrow, Passer domesticus, had no effect suggesting that responses to male intrusions were species characteristic and not a result of general arousal. Further, auditory stimuli (vocalizations) alone, and visual stimuli (a devocalized male) alone were less effective in stimulating an increase in secretion of T than a combination of auditory and visual stimuli.

Key words

Testosterone Plasma levels Song sparrow Melospiza melodia Male-male interactions 





luteinizing hormon;



Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Wingfield
    • 1
    • 2
  • Masaru Wada
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyNJ-15, University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of General EducationTokyo Medical and Dental UniversityIchikawa-shi, ChibaJapan

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