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Journal Article

Do nonapeptides regulate parental care depending on experience in zebra finches?

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Kelly, E. M., & Adkins-Regan, E. (2020). Do nonapeptides regulate parental care depending on experience in zebra finches? Hormones and Behavior, 117: 104603. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2019.104603.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-DCB8-4
Recent research suggests that the nonapeptide neurohormones regulate parental behaviors in a diverse array of vertebrates. However, it remains unclear how these neurohormones regulate parental care among birds, especially those which exhibit biparental care, or whether hormonal effects are contingent on a bird's previous experience as a parent. We measured the effects of nonapeptides on parental behaviors by peripherally injecting, over three treatment days, a short-acting nonapeptide receptor antagonist (OTA) or a saline control into breeding pairs of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) that either did or did not have previous parental experience. We then compared how the duration of parental behaviors changed over the five days of observation (including one day before and two days after injections were administered). To compare treatment effects on parental outcomes, we also measured chick growth and mortality rates for each pair. There was a nearly significant interaction between treatment and experience for the amount of time birds spent in the nest, with time in the nest declining across the experiment inexperienced and experienced OTA birds. There was also a significant treatment by trial day interaction for nest guarding and a treatment by experience by trial day interaction for nest maintenance. Chicks reared by parents that received the OTA had significantly lower growth rates than chicks reared by control parents and, among experienced birds, higher mortality relative to control birds. Together, these results provide some support for the hypothesis that nonapeptides play a role in regulating parental outcomes and some parental behaviors in both experienced and inexperienced zebra finches.