Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Group housing during adolescence has long-term effects on the adult stress response in female, but not male, zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Michael G. Emmerson, Karen A. Spencer

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Adolescent social interactions can have long-term effects on physiological responses to stressors in later-life. A larger adolescent group size can result in higher stressor-induced secretion of glucocorticoids in adulthood. The effect may be due to a socially-mediated modulation of gonadal hormones, e.g. testosterone. However, group size (number of animals) has been conflated with social density (space per animal). Therefore it is hard to determine the mechanisms through which adolescent group size can affect the stress response. The current study aimed to tease apart the effects of group size and social density during adolescence on the physiological stress response and gonadal hormone levels in adulthood. Adolescent zebra finches were housed in groups varying in size (2 vs. 5 birds per cage) and density (0.03m3 vs. 0.06m3 per bird) during early adolescence (day 40-60). Density was only manipulated in birds raised in groups of five. Glucocorticoid concentration secreted in response to a standard capture and restraint stressor was quantified in adolescence (day 55±1) and adulthood (day 100+). Basal gonadal hormones concentrations (male testosterone, female estradiol) were also quantified in adulthood. Female birds housed in larger groups, independent of social density, secreted a higher glucocorticoid concentration 45 mins into restraint regardless of age, and had higher peak glucocorticoid concentration in adulthood. Adult gonadal hormone concentrations were not affected by group size or density. Our results suggest that group size, not density, is a social condition that influences the development of the endocrine response to stressors in female zebra finches, and that these effects persist into adulthood. The findings have clear relevance to the social housing conditions necessary for optimal welfare in captive animals, but also elucidate the role of social rearing conditions in the emergence of responses to stressors that may persist across the lifespan and affect fitness of animals in wild populations.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Volume256
Early online date8 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018

    Research areas

  • Adolescence, Plasticity, Group size, Crowding, Social stress, Stress response

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Acute social isolation alters neurogenomic state in songbird forebrain

    George, J., Bell, Z., Condliffe, D., Doher, K., Abaurrea, T., Spencer, K., Leitao, A., Gahr, M., Hurd, P. & Clayton, D. F., 22 Jul 2019, In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Latest Articles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Chronological age, biological age, and individual variation in the stress response in the European starling: a follow-up study

    Gott, A., Andrews, C., Hormigos, M. L., Spencer, K., Bateson, M. & Nettle, D., 23 Oct 2018, In : PeerJ. 6, 19 p., 5842.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Stress hormones, social associations and song learning in zebra finches

    Boogert, N. J., Lachlan, R. F., Spencer, K. A., Templeton, C. N. & Farine, D. R., 26 Sep 2018, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 373, 1756, 9 p., 20170290.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. General and Comparative Endocrinology (Journal)

    Joanna Louise Kershaw (Member of editorial board)
    29 May 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. General and Comparative Endocrinology (Journal)

    Joanna Louise Kershaw (Member of editorial board)
    16 Feb 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. General and Comparative Endocrinology (Journal)

    Gordon Cramb (Member of editorial board)
    1 Jan 200831 Dec 2012

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. General and Comparative Endocrinology (Journal)

    Gordon Cramb (Member of editorial board)
    2008 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  5. General and Comparative Endocrinology (Journal)

    Neil Hazon (Member of editorial board)
    2005 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Bottlenose dolphin calves have multi-year elevations of plasma oxytocin compared to all other age classes

    Robinson, K. J., Ternes, K., Hazon, N., Wells, R. & Janik, V. M., 13 Nov 2019, In : General and Comparative Endocrinology. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Glucocorticoid programming of neuroimmune function

    Walker, D. J. & Spencer, K. A., 15 Jan 2018, In : General and Comparative Endocrinology. 256, p. 80-88 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  3. Divergent regulation of insulin-like growth factor binding protein genes in cultured Atlantic salmon myotubes under different models of catabolism and anabolism

    Garcia de la Serrana, D., Jofre, E. N., Martin, S. A. M., Johnston, I. A. & Macqueen, D. J., 1 Jun 2017, In : General and Comparative Endocrinology. 247, p. 53-65 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 250467447

Top