No Scope for Social Modulation of Steroid Levels in a Year-Round Territorial Damselfish
Both latitude and mating system have been proposed to shape relationships between steroid hormone levels and social behavior. Recently it has been postulated that species with long lasting non-seasonal territorial behavior have low androgen responsiveness. Tropical damselfishes are an ideal family to test this proposition because they show a large variety in mating systems. Here we contribute to the comparative dataset by measuring the response in steroid levels after social modulation in the banded sergeant, Abudefduf septemfasciatus, a species with non-seasonal territoriality. In highly territorial and brooding males, we found low androgen and cortisol levels that did not increase after experimental intraspecific simulated territorial intrusions (STI tests). No relationship was found between the variation in steroid hormone levels and territorial responses to naturally occurring territorial intrusions. Although steroid levels were low, male A. septemfasciatus were highly territorial both to STI challenges and to fishes that passed the territory. They often chased intruders for several meters away from the territory. This indicates that during nest defence in a non-seasonal territorial damselfish species, territorial behaviors are shown independent of variation in androgen and cortisol levels. J. Exp. Zool. 323A: 80-88, 2015. (c) 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.