Elevated 11-ketotestosterone during paternal behavior in the Bluebanded goby (Lythrypnus dalli)

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The relationship between androgens and paternal behavior is not straightforward, potentially because of the diversity of tasks a male must undertake to maximize reproductive success, notably alternating between courtship, aggression, and offspring care. In some species, these events are separated in time, but in others they are coincident. The endocrine profiles of species that simultaneously court, parent, and defend a nest, such as male bluebanded gobies (Lythrypnus dalli), are not well understood. We sampled a potent fish androgen, 11-ketotestosterone (KT), at different life history stages (experienced parenting males, experienced males not actively parenting, inexperienced males with their first clutch, and females), to examine this relationship. We found that experienced parenting L. dalli males have the highest KT levels of any group, while none of the other groups differed significantly. Males showed elevated KT levels when they had eggs compared to when they did not. Our data suggest that KT facilitates at least some aspects of parental care in L. dalli.

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