Social stress effects on territorial marking and ultrasonic vocalizations in mice

Physiol Behav. 1999 Nov;67(5):769-75. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(99)00131-6.


Acute social defeat (SD) leads to transient and persistent physiological and behavioral changes. We examined the effects of acute SD on territorial urine marking and ultrasonic courtship vocalizations in DBA/2 male mice. Both behaviors are considered androgen dependent and are influenced by social status, with dominant mice displaying more of both behaviors. In Experiment 1, male mice that received SD displayed prolonged inhibition of territorial urine marking, relative to nondefeated control mice (NOSD). In addition, territorial marking increased with repeated tests. In Experiment 2, male mice that received 3 successive days of SD displayed fewer ultrasonic courtship vocalizations at 30 min. post-SD1 and 30 min. post-SD2, relative to NOSD mice. In Experiment 2, we also observed decreased territorial marking 4 weeks post-SD. In sum, SD induced prolonged inhibition of territorial marking, but had only transient effects on ultrasonic courtship vocalizations, suggesting that different mechanisms may mediate the maintenance of these behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Social Environment
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Territoriality*
  • Ultrasonics
  • Urination / physiology
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*