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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Excreted metabolites of gonadal steroid hormones and corticosterone in greylag geese (Anser anser) from hatching to fledging.

Steroid hormones play major roles in the organization of the phenotype and in the activation of behavior. From hatching to fledging, they are involved in growth, development, and learning. We investigated the relationship between the ontogenetic patterns of steroid hormones and the sexual and social development of greylag goslings (Anser anser). Two groups of individually marked goslings (n = 10/5) were hand-raised under near-field conditions. 17beta-OH-androgen (AM), estrogen (EM), and corticosterone (BM) immunoreactive metabolites were measured noninvasively by enzyme immunoassay of individual fecal samples. Feces were regularly sampled from hatching to fledging. All excreted steroids were found to peak at hatching and to decrease thereafter. Gonadal steroids fluctuated more than BM, which remained at low levels throughout ontogeny after a slow decrease during the first 20 days. The pattern of BM is discussed in relation to learning processes (i.e., filial imprinting) and social stress. It is suggested that high initial BM may constrain energy allocation to growth. AM increased around the age of 20 days, when the feathers start growing, and later, together with EM, at the age of 40 days. These elevated values of gonadal steroids are discussed in relation to the sensitive phase of sexual imprinting. Females show higher EM levels than males throughout ontogeny. Furthermore, the ratio of excreted estrogen to androgen (EM/AM) of females before fledging correlates with the number of hatched and fledged goslings in their first years of reproduction. In conclusion, our data suggest a role for steroid hormones in the modulation of behavioral and morphological development in the precocial greylag geese, in agreement with the organizational-activational hypothesis.[1]


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