Gonadal hormones and conspecific marking in male rats
ABSTRACT Urine deposited by a rat on a conspecific was quantified with injections of sodium fluorescein, a substance that changes the color of urine. The hypothesis examined in experiment 1 was that marking the environment and a conspecific would be similarly androgen-sensitive behaviors during each of three stages—before castration, after castration, and with restorative therapy with testosterone propionate. Findings were that castration reduced both forms of marking, and testosterone therapy to castrated males restored environmental marking in a dose-response fashion. However, the findings for social marking were more complex; for example, a physiological 200-μg testosterone dosage to castrated males was unable to elevate conspecific marking over the rates of marking by castrates without testosterone replacement. In experiment 2 the ontogeny conspecific marking in juvenile males was examined in relation to the pubertal surge of androgens. Results suggested that juvenile male marking of an adult male decreased despite a pubertal increase of androgens. Conclusions were that testicular hormones influenced both forms of marking but were less important in the social setting. Moreover, conspecific marking is not simply an extension of marking the environment.