Spawning behaviour and sex hormone levels in adult and precocious brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) males and the effect of anosmia
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In the present experiment the behaviour and endocrine status of males of the brown trout, Salmo trutta L., (Salmoniformes: Salmonidae) were studied when males were kept in a stream tank with a nest digging female. Groups of mature adult males and precocious intact or anosmic male parr were placed with the nesting female so that the group resembled a natural spawning situation with big anadromous fish acting as dominant males and precocious parr acting as “sneakers”. A control experiment was also run with only males without a female present. In intact parr there were significant positive correlations between the per cent of the total observation time spent with a female, milt volume, and plasma concentration of 17α, 20β-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one. Anosmic parr had significantly lower volumes of strippable milt and gonadal steroid hormone levels compared with intact parr. However, no differences were found in the control experiment. Significantly fewer anosmic parr attended and courted the nesting female and those anosmic fish that attended the female had significantly lower plasma levels of gonadal hormones. Intact parr also displayed a greater number of agonistic acts against other parr without any difference in fighting ability. No differences in aggression occured in the control experiment. In adult males together with a female, post-experimental gonadal steroid hormone levels were higher than pre-experimental levels. Positive correlations between aggression and androgen hormone levels were observed in adult males. No differences in plasma hormone levels were observed between adult males and intact precocious males. The results show that olfactory occlusion results in low steroid hormone levels and milt volumes in precocious males placed in a spawning situation. The courting behaviour was also affected by anosmia. Odours from the nesting female may have caused the enhanced plasma hormone levels and stimulated the males to attend the female.
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