Testosterone pulses paired with a location induce a place preference to the nest of a monogamous mouse under field conditions

  1. Radmila Petric  Is a corresponding author
  2. Matina C Kalcounis-Rueppell
  3. Catherine A Marler
  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
  2. University of Alberta, Canada
  3. University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States


Changing social environments such as the birth of young or aggressive encounters present a need to adjust behavior. Previous research examined how long-term changes in steroid hormones mediate these adjustments. We tested the novel concept that the rewarding effects of transient testosterone pulses (T-pulses) in males after social encounters alters their spatial distribution on a territory. In free-living monogamous California mice (Peromyscus californicus), males administered three T-injections at the nest spent more time at the nest than males treated with placebo injections. This mimics T-induced place preferences in the laboratory. Female mates of T-treated males spent less time at the nest but the pair produced more vocalizations and call types than controls. Traditionally, transient T-changes were thought to have transient behavioral effects. Our work demonstrates that in the wild, when T-pulses occur in a salient context such as a territory, the behavioral effects last days after T-levels return to baseline.

Data availability

All data analysed for this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for all figures.Petric, Radmila. 2021. "T-Pulses at the Nest." OSF. osf.io/qknze.doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/QKNZE

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Radmila Petric

    Institute for the Environment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2651-3328
  2. Matina C Kalcounis-Rueppell

    Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Catherine A Marler

    Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


National Science Foundation (1355163)

  • Matina C Kalcounis-Rueppell
  • Catherine A Marler

Sigma Xi (Spring 2018)

  • Radmila Petric

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All animal care and use guidelines were followed and research protocols for this study were approved by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and University of Wisconsin-Madison Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC; UNCG 12-004 and UWM L005047-A01) and by California Department of Fish and Wildlife under Scientific Collection Permits (SC-9663 and SC-13190).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Kristin Tessmar-Raible, University of Vienna, Austria

Publication history

  1. Received: December 16, 2020
  2. Preprint posted: January 4, 2021 (view preprint)
  3. Accepted: March 29, 2022
  4. Accepted Manuscript published: March 30, 2022 (version 1)
  5. Version of Record published: April 21, 2022 (version 2)


© 2022, Petric et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Radmila Petric
  2. Matina C Kalcounis-Rueppell
  3. Catherine A Marler
Testosterone pulses paired with a location induce a place preference to the nest of a monogamous mouse under field conditions
eLife 11:e65820.

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