New insights into neuropeptide modulation of aggression: Field studies of arginine vasotocin in a territorial tropical damselfish

  • Santangelo N
  • Bass A
  • 78


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 64


    Citations of this article.


The neuropeptides arginine vasotocin (AVT) and arginine vasopressin are key modulators of affiliation and aggression among non-mammalian and mammalian vertebrates, respectively. Here, we explored AVT's effect on aggression in a wild population of beaugregory damselfish, Stegastes leucostictus, a highly territorial species. Aggression by territorial males towards ‘intruders’ (bottled fishes) was assessed before and after each male received intramuscular injections of either AVT, Manning compound (an AVT V1a receptor antagonist), isotocin (the teleost homologue of mammalian oxytocin differing from AVT by two amino acids) or saline (vehicle control). Compared to saline controls, AVT and Manning increased and decreased aggression, respectively, while isotocin had no effect. Response selectivity was further established in a dose–response study that revealed an inverted U-shaped function. Compared to saline controls, aggression levels for low and high AVT doses were similar, while medium dose treatments were significantly greater. This type of behavioural response, the first that we know of for a vertebrate neuropeptide, could depend on the binding of AVT to both V1-type and other AVT or non-AVT receptors. The pattern revealed here for damselfish may be symptomatic of species- and context-dependent specificity of AVT's modulation of aggression across teleosts, as is currently proposed for tetrapods.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aggression
  • Neuroendocrine
  • Teleost
  • V1-type receptor
  • Vasotocin

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Nick Santangelo

  • Andrew H. Bass

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free