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Infections can dramatically modify animal behaviour. The extent of these changes depends on an animal's environment. It has been proposed that testosterone modulates the suppression of behavioural symptoms of sickness under certain reproductive contexts. To further understand the role played by testosterone in modulating sickness behaviours under reproductive contexts, we studied a species, the Japanese quail, in which female exposure rapidly decreases circulating testosterone in males. Males received either an immune challenge (lipopolysaccharide – LPS) or a control injection and their behaviours, mass change and testosterone levels were quantified in the presence or absence of a female. Both the presence of a female and LPS treatment reduced testosterone levels. LPS-treated males maintained in isolation expressed expected sickness behaviours, including increased resting (quantified as crouching) and decreased food and water intake. Despite the reduction in testosterone, when paired with females LPS-treated males showed similar amounts of mating behaviours to controls and reduced crouching. In sum, even under very low levels of testosterone, male quail had reduced sickness behaviours when exposed to females, indicating that testosterone may not be key in modulating sickness behaviours, at least in this species.


This article was originally published in Royal Society Open Science, volume 9, in 2022.


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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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