Androgen level and male social status in the African cichlid, Astatotilapia burtoni

Behav Brain Res. 2006 Jan 30;166(2):291-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2005.07.011. Epub 2005 Sep 6.


In vertebrates, circulating androgen levels are regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis through which the brain controls the gonads via the pituitary. Androgen levels ultimately depend on factors including season, temperature, social circumstance, age, and other variables related to reproductive capacity and opportunity. Previous studies with an African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni, suggested that changes in both testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT), an androgen specific to teleost fish, depend on male social status. Here we characterize circulating plasma concentrations of testosterone and 11-KT in socially dominant (territorial) and socially subordinate (non-territorial) males. Territorial males have significantly higher circulating levels of both forms of androgen, which is another defining difference between dominant and subordinate males in this species. These results underscore how internal and external cues related to reproduction are integrated at the level of the HPG axis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cichlids*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Hierarchy, Social*
  • Male
  • Social Behavior*
  • Territoriality
  • Testosterone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Testosterone
  • 11-ketotestosterone