The Influence of Exogenous Testosterone on the Dynamics of Nestling Provisioning in Dark-Eyed Juncos


Ethan D. Clotfelter, Department of Biology, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002, USA.


In many songbird species, application of exogenous testosterone (T) during the breeding season has the general effects of reducing male parental investment and increasing allocation of time and energy to mating. Most studies record the number of feeding trips made by males as a function of their hormone treatment, but few have investigated the ways in which testosterone affects the dynamics of male and female provisioning behavior or the quantity of food delivered by males. We attempt to fill these gaps in our understanding of testosterone and male parental effort by utilizing data from a long-term study on the behavioral endocrinology of the dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis). We found that male and female feeding rates covaried positively, although to different degrees, throughout the nestling period, but that this relationship was degraded in pairs in which males were given T implants. We also found that the coefficients of variation in the duration of intervals between successive feeding trips by males and females were highly positively related in broods of older nestlings. Male hormone treatment, however, had no effect on the coefficients of variation in either male or female feeding intervals. Finally, we examined the quantity of prey delivered by males and found no significant effect of hormone treatment.