Dominance hierarchies and social status ascent opportunity: anticipatory behavioral and physiological adjustments in a Neotropical cichlid fish.

Abstract

In this work we characterized the social hierarchy of non-reproductive individuals of Cichlasoma dimerus (Heckel, 1840), independently for both sexes, and its relationship to the opportunity for social status ascent. Female and male individuals who were located on the top rank of the social hierarchy, ascended in social status when the opportunity arose, therefore indicating that dominance is directly correlated with social ascent likelihood. Dominance was positively correlated with size in males but not in females, suggesting for the latter a relationship with intrinsic features such as aggressiveness or personality rather than to body and/or ovarian size. Physiological and morphometrical variables related to reproduction, stress and body color were measured in non-reproductive fish and correlated with dominance and social ascent likelihood. Dominance was negatively correlated with plasma cortisol levels for both sexes. No correlation with dominance was found for androgen plasma levels (testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone). No correlation was detected between dominance and the selected morphological and physiological variables measured in females, suggesting no reproductive inhibition in this sex at a physiological level and that all females seem to be ready for reproduction. In contrast, social hierarchy of non-reproductive males was found to be positively correlated with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) pituitary content levels and gonadosomatic indexes. This suggests an adaptive mechanism of non reproductive males, adjusting their reproductive investment in relation to their likelihood for social status ascent, as perceived by their position in the social hierarchy. This likelihood is translated into a physiological signal through plasma cortisol levels that inhibit gonad investment through pituitary inhibition of FSH, representing an anticipatory response to the opportunity for social status ascent.

DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.04.003

Cite this paper

@article{Alonso2012DominanceHA, title={Dominance hierarchies and social status ascent opportunity: anticipatory behavioral and physiological adjustments in a Neotropical cichlid fish.}, author={Felipe Marjalizo Alonso and Renato Massaaki Honji and Renata Guimar{\~a}es Moreira and Mat{\'i}as Pandolfi}, journal={Physiology & behavior}, year={2012}, volume={106 5}, pages={612-8} }