General and comparative endocrinology

Annual profile of fecal androgen and glucocorticoid levels in free-living male American kestrels from southern mid-latitude areas.

PMID 20026334


Fecal samples and behavioral data were collected at a fortnightly basis during 11 months period from free-living male American kestrels living in southeast Brazil (22 degrees S latitude). The aim was to investigate the seasonal changes in testicular and adrenal steroidogenic activity and their correlation to reproductive behaviors and environmental factors. The results revealed that monthly mean of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites in May and June were higher than those estimated in November. In parallel, monthly mean of androgen metabolites in September was higher than those from January to April and from October to November. Molt took place from January to March, whereas copulation was observed from June to October but peaked in September. Nest activity and food transfer to females occurred predominantly in October, and parental behavior was noticed only in November. Territorial aggressions were rare and scattered throughout the year. Multiple regression analysis revealed that fecal androgen levels are predicted by photoperiod and copulation, while fecal glucocorticoid levels are only predicted by photoperiod. Bivariate correlations showed that fecal androgen metabolites were positively correlated with fecal glucocorticoid metabolites and copulation, but negatively correlated with molt. Additionally, copulation was positively correlated with food transfer to females and nest activity, but negatively correlated with molt. These findings suggest that male American kestrels living in southeast Brazil exhibit significant seasonal changes in fecal androgen and glucocorticoid concentrations, which seem to be stimulated by decreasing daylength but not by rainfall or temperature.

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