Zoological Studies

Vol. 57, 2018

(update: 2018.07.02; 07.18) 

Effect of Group Density on the Physiology and Aggressive Behavior of Male Brandt's Voles (Lasiopodomys brandtii)

Xin Dai, Ling-Yu Zhou, Jie-Xia Cao, Yan-Qi Zhang, Feng-Ping Yang, Ai-Qin Wang, Wan-Hong Wei, and Sheng-Mei Yang*

College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Yangzhou University, 48 East Wenhui Road, Yangzhou 225009, P.R. China

(Received 21 January 2018; Accepted 21 June 2018; Communicated by Jian-Nan Liu)

Xin Dai, Ling-Yu Zhou, Jie-Xia Cao, Yan-Qi Zhang, Feng-Ping Yang, Ai-Qin Wang, Wan-Hong Wei, and Sheng-Mei Yang (2018) Population density is well known to influence animal physiology and behavior. How population density affects the aggressive behavior of the Brandt’s vole (Lasiopodomys brandtii) is, however, little known. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of group density on physiologic responses and aggressive behavior of male Brandt’s voles and their potential underlying neuro-mechanism. The results show that increasing group density led to elevated serum corticosterone levels and increased spleen weight; it also induced more male-male aggressive behavior. By contrast, it had a negative effect on body growth and the weight of testis and epididymis. Aging also increased male-male aggressive behavior. Higher density reduced mRNA levels of tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 1A (5HT1A), and 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 1B (5HT1B) in the amygdala and the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN). Our results demonstrate that higher population density can intensify stress reactions and male-male aggressive behavior in Brandt’s voles at the price of inhibiting body growth and reproduction. Serotonergic systems in the amygdala and the DRN may take part in the control of aggressive behavior among male voles. Our results provide novel insights into the neuro-mechanism underlying the influence of population density on aggressive behavior in Brandt’s vole, and imply that aggressive behavior may play an important role in the population fluctuation of the animal.

Key words: Brandt’s vole, Group density, Aggressive behavior, Physiological response, 5-hydroxytryptamine.

*Correspondence: E-mail: smyang@yzu.edu.cn