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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of photoperiod and endocrine factors in the control of nest-building and courtship in the male ring dove (Streptopelia risoria) McDonald, Pam


Male ring doves ( Streptopelia risoria ) held on long days perform more nest-building than birds held on short days. This difference persists even if circulating androgen is maintained at similar levels in both groups by castration and treatment with exogenous testosterone. It therefore appears that daylength can alter nest-building through some means other than changes in gonadal androgen production. The experiments described in this thesis examined three mechanisms which might be responsible for the effect of daylength on male nest-building. The first series of experiments tested the hypothesis that nest-building activity is greater under long days as a result of increased aromatization of testosterone into estrogen. Castrated male doves were implanted with estradiol benzoate, testosterone propionate (TP), or a combination of TP and an aromatase inhibitor, ATD, and exposed to either long or short photoperiods. Males held under long days continued to build more actively, regardless of the type of hormone being used. The results thus indicate that differences in the rate of aromatization cannot account for the effect of photoperiod. In a second series of experiments an attempt was made to determine whether an increase in the production of hypothalamic luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) under long daylengths stimulates nest-building, as a result of a synergism with testosterone. Long- and short-day castrated males were treated with exogenous TP or TP and LHRH to see if the influence of short daylengths could be reversed by LHRH. LHRH treatment had no effect on the nesting activity of either short- or long-day birds. Finally, several tests were performed which focussed on the role of the pineal gland. Removal of the pineal caused a decrease in nesting activity in long-day birds, but not in short-day birds. The effect of pinealectomy does not depend on the presence of the gonads, since the birds displayed similar responses following castration and testosterone treatment. In the second test, the ability, of pinealectomy to nullify the stimulatory influence of long daylengths was confirmed. In addition, injections of chicken pineal extract increased nest-building in pinealectomized and in short-day pineal-intact birds, suggesting that the pineal produces a substance which is capable of stimulating nesting activity. The identity of this substance is unknown. Pilot tests using melatonin failed to show any stimulatory effect of this compound on nesting behaviour. However, serotonin, which is also present in the pineal in high concentration, did increase nest-building in short-day pinealectomized males. These results indicate that in response to long daylengths the pineal gland of male doves releases a compound, possibly serotonin, which stimulates nest-building activity.

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