Monogamous species are usually considered to be less likely to exhibit sex differences in behavior or brain structure. Most previous studies examining sex differences in stress hormone responses have used relatively sexually dimorphic species such as rats. We examined the stress hormone responses of monogamous California mice (Peromyscus californicus) to resident-intruder tests. We also tested males and females under different photoperiods, because photoperiod has been shown to affect both aggression and stress hormone responses. Females, but not males showed a significant increase in corticosterone levels immediately following a resident-intruder test. Males but not females showed elevated corticosterone levels under short days. Females tested in aggression tests also showed a significant increase in plasma oxytocin levels, but only when housed in long days. This was consistent with our observation that females but not males had more oxytocin positive cells in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) when housed under long days. Our data show that sex differences in glucocorticoid responses identified in other rodents are present in a monogamous species.
- Paraventricular nucleus
- Peromyscus californicus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems