The Challenge Hypothesis postulates that male vertebrates can respond to social challenges, such as simulated territorial intrusions (STI), by rapidly increasing their concentrations of plasma androgens, such as testosterone (T). This increase may facilitate the expression of aggressive behavior and lead to persistence of this behavior even after withdrawal of the challenge, thus potentially promoting territoriality and the probability of winning future challenges. The validity of the Challenge Hypothesis was investigated in socially monogamous free-ranging male Cassin’s Sparrows, Peucaea cassinii. Exposure to STI at the beginning of the vernal nesting season stimulated aggressive behavior but did not increase plasma T. Furthermore, plasma T did not correlate with the duration of exposure to STI and the behavioral response to STI did not differ in males that were challenged a second time shortly after the first challenge. As birds were investigated at a stage of their reproductive cycle when plasma T is presumably seasonally high due to photostimulation, the lack of hormonal response to STI may have been due to the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis secreting hormones at maximum rates. This was not the case, however, because administration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone I (GnRH-I) rapidly stimulated the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and T, and treatment with ovine LH rapidly stimulated T secretion
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