Elevated testosterone levels and social ranks in female rock hyrax

Lee Koren, Ofer Mokady, Eli Geffen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations

Abstract

In mammals, males maintain significantly higher testosterone (T, 'the male hormone') levels than females throughout the year and are typically dominant over females. Our study of the cooperatively breeding rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) demonstrated a distinct exception. In most hyrax social groups that we studied, adult females were at the highest social rank within the group and showed higher than or equal T levels to males. To our knowledge, this is the first reported instance of adult female mammals demonstrating higher T levels than adult males. However, although T levels significantly correlated with rank in males, in females such correlations were not detected, suggesting a more complex interplay between behavior and endocrine factors in this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-477
Number of pages8
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank G. Koren, J. Klein, and T. Karaskov from the Motherisk Program in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada for their help with the hair-testing and hormone validations and to the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority for their logistic support and permission to work in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. We also thank A. Hefetz, G. Koren, A. Lotem, B. Sanzenbacher, J. Terkel, Y. Yom-Tov, and two anonymous referees for their constructive comments on earlier drafts. This research was supported by The Israeli Academy for Sciences and Humanities.

Keywords

  • Agonistic interactions
  • Female dominance
  • Hair-testing
  • Rock hyrax
  • Social hierarchy
  • Testosterone levels

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