Social mediation of sexually selected ornamentation and steroid hormone levels in male junglefowl

Timothy H. Parker*, Rosemary Knapp, Jonathan A. Rosenfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Honest signals in sexual selection may be maintained by a variety of mechanisms. Comb size in male red junglefowl, Gallus gallus, a well-known predictor of female mate choice, is mediated by health and condition. Social status has also been shown to mediate comb size. To determine whether hormones related to male dominance behaviour might be related to social status and comb size, we monitored changes in plasma levels of testosterone and corticosterone following manipulation of social status. We removed young adult male junglefowl from their all-male flocks and placed them either in individual cages or in smaller flocks. We measured comb size and other morphological variables, as well as testosterone and corticosterone levels, before and after the manipulation of social status. Males in small flocks showed reduced comb growth, increased corticosterone and decreased testosterone levels compared with individually housed males. Within flocks, comb size was positively related to dominance rank and to testosterone level, although not always significantly. However, dominance rank was unrelated to either corticosterone or testosterone levels. In isolated birds, testosterone level was not related to comb size. Corticosterone level was not related to comb size in either treatment group. Our results are consistent with social mediation of comb size and testosterone and corticosterone levels, but it is unclear whether these hormones contribute to the observed social limitation of comb length.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Social mediation of sexually selected ornamentation and steroid hormone levels in male junglefowl'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this