Reproductive History and Nest Environment Are Correlated with Circulating Androgen and Glucocorticoid Concentrations in a Parental Care–Providing Teleost Fish
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Using a long-term study population of wild smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu in a connected river-lake system, we investigated whether circulating glucocorticoid (cortisol) and androgen (testosterone) concentrations are influenced by reproductive investment and nesting environment in fish providing nest-guarding paternal care. For all individuals, we collected measures of reproductive history and the value of current parental care. We assessed nest environment and monitored individuals to quantify seasonal reproductive success. Finally, we measured circulating cortisol concentrations following a standardized stressor and circulating testosterone concentrations. Using general linear models, we found that poststress circulating cortisol concentrations were positively related to water temperature and were higher in fish nesting in the river than in the lake. Circulating testosterone concentrations were negatively related to water temperature and were higher in reproductively experienced fish. When considering the factors that influence reproductive success, we found that only parental size was positively related to current nest success. In summary, the results demonstrate that nesting environment is correlated with parental stress responses during parental care, while reproductive history and nesting environment are correlated with circulating androgen concentrations. Collectively, these results offer insight into the roles of both glucocorticoid and androgen steroid hormones during parental care in teleost fish.
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