The role of androgens in the trade-off between territorial and parental behavior in the Azorean rock-pool blenny, Parablennius parvicornis

Horm Behav. 2004 Nov;46(4):491-7. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2004.04.007.


Androgen hormones have been shown to facilitate competitive ability in courtship and territorial behavior, while suppressing paternal behavior. The rock-pool blenny, Parablennius parvicornis, provides an excellent model to study the proximate regulation of such a trade-off between territorial and parental behavior, because nest-holder males of this species display these behaviors simultaneously. A field study was carried out in which territorial nest holder males were either treated with long-lasting implants filled with 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT) or with control implants. Males treated with 11-KT showed a higher frequency of aggressive behavior, were more responsive to aggressive challenges, and were more persistent in aggressive behavior than control males. In addition, territories were larger in males treated with 11-KT than in controls. We found evidence for incompatibility between defense of a large territory and high levels of parental behavior. However, contrary to expectation, 11-KT did not suppress parental behavior. We suggest that trade-offs between territorial and parental behavior may not be regulated by androgen hormones but may result from a time constraint in the individual's activity budget.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants
  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Paternal Behavior*
  • Perciformes / blood*
  • Random Allocation
  • Territoriality*
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Testosterone
  • 11-ketotestosterone