Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Philip K. Stoddard

Abstract

Androgens regulate aggression in male vertebrates however the exact role they play in regulating aggression in females is not as well understood. Female aggression is commonplace in many vertebrate groups where it can provide various advantages to the aggressors. I explored whether androgens serve as important hormonal mediators of aggressive behavior in female electric fish. I paired adult females of the weakly-electric fish Brachyhypopomus gauderio in aggressive encounters and compared bloodtestosterone (T) levels of dominant and subordinate groups. Afterwards, I implanted a new set of females with the androgen 5a-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and compared frequency of different aggressive behaviors to a blank-implanted group. I created dyads ofblank-blank (BB), blank-DHT (BD), and DHT-DHT (DD). I demonstrate that dominant females have higher T-levels than subordinates. I also show that the frequency of aggressive behaviors is dependent upon treatment type. Androgens increased both the intensity and level of female aggression, however the degree and type of aggressive behavior depended on the opponent being fought.

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