Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

Angry Dads: Male Parental Aggression as a Measure of Parental Care and its Modulation Via the Neuropeptide Arginine Vasotocin (AVT)

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

Arginine vasotocin (AVT), as well as its mammalian homologue arginine vasopressin (AVP), has been shown to modulate a variety of behaviors such as aggression and parental care in monogamous animals, however monogamous fish have yet to be explored. Here, we investigated the effects of arginine vasotocin (AVT) and its specific antagonist (i.e. specifically binds to, but not activates, AVT receptors) Manning compound on parental aggression in males of the biparental monogamous convict cichlid Archocentrus nigrofasciatus. Saline and isotocin (IT; the teleost fish homologue of mammalian oxytocin) were used as controls. Because IT only differs from AVT by one amino acid, it is an ideal control to test the specificity of AVT to modulate a specific behavior. Data was collected and analyzed on the number of bites a parental male exhibited towards a strange male (i.e. an "intruder" fish). This intruder was set behind a clear partition while the parental male was caring for offspring. AVT and isotocin increased male parental aggression while Manning compound had the inverse effect (i.e. it decreased aggression). The effect of isotocin in this monogamous fish system was surprising as previous studies have shown that in polygynous systems, AVT increased aggression while isotocin had no effect. This perhaps suggests that in more "complex" biparental societies where AVT has additional functions (i.e. modulating pair bond behavior and parental care), isotocin has evolved as an added modulator of some of these behaviors such as aggression.

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Angry Dads: Male Parental Aggression as a Measure of Parental Care and its Modulation Via the Neuropeptide Arginine Vasotocin (AVT)

Arginine vasotocin (AVT), as well as its mammalian homologue arginine vasopressin (AVP), has been shown to modulate a variety of behaviors such as aggression and parental care in monogamous animals, however monogamous fish have yet to be explored. Here, we investigated the effects of arginine vasotocin (AVT) and its specific antagonist (i.e. specifically binds to, but not activates, AVT receptors) Manning compound on parental aggression in males of the biparental monogamous convict cichlid Archocentrus nigrofasciatus. Saline and isotocin (IT; the teleost fish homologue of mammalian oxytocin) were used as controls. Because IT only differs from AVT by one amino acid, it is an ideal control to test the specificity of AVT to modulate a specific behavior. Data was collected and analyzed on the number of bites a parental male exhibited towards a strange male (i.e. an "intruder" fish). This intruder was set behind a clear partition while the parental male was caring for offspring. AVT and isotocin increased male parental aggression while Manning compound had the inverse effect (i.e. it decreased aggression). The effect of isotocin in this monogamous fish system was surprising as previous studies have shown that in polygynous systems, AVT increased aggression while isotocin had no effect. This perhaps suggests that in more "complex" biparental societies where AVT has additional functions (i.e. modulating pair bond behavior and parental care), isotocin has evolved as an added modulator of some of these behaviors such as aggression.