Group‐living animals commonly display differences in behaviour, physiology and endocrine profiles between conspecifics within the group, which are tightly linked to reproduction. Teleosts exhibit a variety of social systems, where social status, as well as sex, has been linked to different androgen and oestrogen profiles. Levels of gonadal androgen and oestrogen were investigated as a function of sex and position in a social hierarchy in free‐living individuals of the skunk anemonefish Amphiprion akallopisos, a protandrous pomacentrid fish with a size‐based dominance hierarchical social system. Plasma levels of 11‐ketotestosterone (11‐KT), testosterone (T) and 17β‐oestradiol (E2), as well as conversion ratios from T, were measured by ELISA from 111 individuals along a linear hierarchy from 38 social groups in the wild. Blood plasma levels of 11‐KT and E2 showed sex differences, being higher in males and females respectively as expected based on their role as the major androgen and oestrogen in fish reproduction. However, no sex differences were found for T, which may represent its role in territorial defence or simply as a precursor for the synthesis of 11‐KT and E2. In terms of the hierarchical social system within males, 11‐KT levels decline as the hierarchy is descended, which may represent their decreasing reproductive opportunity, as well as the decreasing levels of aggression towards males lower in the hierarchy. In summary, the size‐based dominance hierarchy is associated with distinct steroid levels of 11‐KT and E2 between individual free‐living A. akallopisos that closely resemble those of species in which breeding individuals suppress reproduction of conspecifics lower in the hierarchy.
Journal of Fish Biology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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