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Abstract

The behavioral and endocrine changes from prenesting to feeding phases of reproduction were examined in free-living reed warblers. Apart from the onset of feeding behavior, these changes in males are particularly evident in song, territorial behavior and circulating levels of testosterone. The interactions between an individual's physiology and behavior during these behavioral transitions were tested first by correlating song and feeding rates with circulating levels of testosterone and secondly by implanting feeding males with steroids and documenting the resulting effects on song, territoriality and parental behavior. The physiological mechanisms associated with the transition from the sexual phase (nest-building and egg-laying) to the parental (incubation and feeding) in females were also examined. In this case, estrogens were implanted during the parental phase to enhance sexual behavior. The results demonstrate an antagonistic relationship between sexual/territorial behavior and parental care in males which is mediated by changes in circulating androgens and no such antagonism in females. The effects of parental manipulation on the feeding rates of the partners and the growth rates of offspring have been examined to shed light on the necessity for male parental input.