Studies of song behavior in European starlings: interrelationshipsamong testosterone, neuroanatomy and immune function

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) Science Article 7


Female starlings pair preferentially with males that produce song organized into long bouts. Females exhibitimmediate early gene responses in the auditory forebrain that are biased towards longer bout songs. In male starlings, lengthof song bout correlates with variation in the volume of two key brain areas controlling song production, the HVC and therobust nucleus of the archistriatum (RA). Length of song bout and song rate are correlated positively with variation inhumoral and cell-mediated immunity respectively. Testosterone stimulates female-directed song and the volume of the songcontrol nuclei, but inhibits (perhaps indirectly) immune responses. This hormone is thus positioned as an important endogenoussignaling mechanism that coordinates several aspects of male physiology and behavior relevant to reproductive successin starlings.

Gregory F. Ball, Deborah L. Duffy, Timothy Q. Gentner, Acta Zoologica Sinica 52(Supplement): 245-247, 2006

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