Kin recognition: An overview of conceptual issues, mechanisms and evolutionary theory

  • Penn D
  • Frommen J
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There has been an extensive debate in behavioural biology to what extent the function and adaptive value of behavioural traits require, or are limited by, specific physiological processes triggered by hormones. The observation that testis size predicts mating systems suggested that testosterone may be an important proximate factor involved in the regulation of mating systems. Indeed, there is evidence that seasonal patterns of circulating testosterone are related to mating systems. Testosterone manipulations affect mating decisions in some, but not all species. In addition, the peptide hormones oxytocin and arginine vasopressin play a major role in pair-bond formation and the expression of different mating systems in mammals. Exciting recent studies indicated that changes in complex social behaviours may be based on the differential expression pattern of just one hormone receptor gene. Rather than social status itself, the process by which social status is achieved and maintained determines the physiological and psychosocial effects associated with a given social status. Current knowledge suggests that the relationship between behaviour and hormones can be quite complex. It also shows that the study of function and adaptive value of behavioural traits and hormonal processes is most successful if the links between the two are explicitly recognised. © 2010 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. All rights reserved.

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  • Dustin J. Penn

  • Joachim G. Frommen

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