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Hormonal Regulation of Parental Care Behavior in Nesting Male Bluegills: Do the Effects of Bromocriptine Suggest a Role for Prolactin?

Pawel M. Kindler, Janice M. Bahr, Mart R. Gross and David P. Philipp
Physiological Zoology
Vol. 64, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1991), pp. 310-322
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30158526
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Hormonal Regulation of Parental Care Behavior in Nesting Male Bluegills: Do the Effects of Bromocriptine Suggest a Role for Prolactin?
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Abstract

The hormonal mechanisms underlying parental care behavior in fish are poorly understood. This study investigates the effects of bromocriptine, a specific dopamine receptor agonist that inhibits secretion of prolactin from the pituitary, on parental care behaviors of nesting male bluegills. Parental male bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) exhibit a complex set of reproductive behaviors including the construction of nests in colonies and courtship of females. After spawning, these males then alone remain to fan and guard the eggs and larvae from predators. Compared with control males, males implanted with bromocriptine showed significantly less defense of their broods and spent significantly more time rim circling their nests, a behavior typical of prespawning males. Because there were no significant differences among male groups in the levels of 11-ketotestosterone (11KT) or testosterone (T), the observed behavioral alterations cannot be ascribed to androgenic effects of bromocriptine. Instead, we suggest that prolactin, mediated through the action of dopamine, is involved in the expression of parental care behavior in this species.

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