The "challenge hypothesis': theoretical implications for patterns of testosterone secretion, mating systems, and breeding strategies

J. C. Wingfield, R. E. Hegner, A. M. Dufty, G. F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The temporal patterns of testosterone (T) levels in blood can vary markedly among populations and individuals, and even within individuals from one year to the next. Although T is known to regulate reproductive behavior (both sexual and aggressive) and thus could be expected to correlate with mating systems, the absolute levels of T in blood are not always indicative of reproductive state. Rather, the pattern and amplitude of change in T levels are far more useful in making predictions about the hormonal basis of mating systems and breeding strategies. The authors present a model that compares the amplitude of change in T level with the degree of parental care shown by individual males. On the basis of data collected from male birds breeding in natural or captive conditions, polygynous males appear less responsive to social environmental cues than are monogamous males. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-846
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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