Sex steroid profiles and pair-maintenance behavior of captive wild-caught zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

Nora H. Prior*, Kang Nian Yap, Hans H. Adomat, Mark C. Mainwaring, H. Bobby Fokidis, Emma S. Guns, Katherine L. Buchanan, Simon C. Griffith, Kiran K. Soma

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Here, we studied the life-long monogamous zebra finch, to examine the relationship between circulating sex steroid profiles and pair-maintenance behavior in pairs of wild-caught zebra finches (paired in the laboratory for >1 month). We used liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry to examine a total of eight androgens and progestins [pregnenolone, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenediol, pregnan-3,17-diol-20-one, androsterone, androstanediol, and testosterone]. In the plasma, only pregnenolone, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone were above the limit of quantification. Sex steroid profiles were similar between males and females, with only circulating progesterone levels significantly different between the sexes (female > male). Circulating pregnenolone levels were high in both sexes, suggesting that pregnenolone might serve as a circulating prohormone for local steroid synthesis in zebra finches. Furthermore, circulating testosterone levels were extremely low in both sexes. Additionally, we found no correlations between circulating steroid levels and pair-maintenance behavior. Taken together, our data raise several interesting questions about the neuroendocrinology of zebra finches.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-44
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


    • Affiliation
    • Opportunistic breeder
    • Pair bond
    • Songbird
    • Steroid profiling


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