Effect of social defeat in a territorial bird (Parus major) selected for different coping styles

C. Carere, D. Welink, Piet J. Drent, Jaap M. Koolhaas, Ton G.G. Groothuis

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We addressed the questions (i) whether a social defeat triggers similar autonomic and behavioral responses in birds as is known from mammals and (ii) whether individuals that differ in coping style differ in their reaction to a social defeat. Adult captive male great tits (Parus major) from either of two different selection lines for coping style were used to test the effect of social defeat by an aggressive resident male conspecific on subsequent social and nonsocial behaviour, body temperature, breath rate and body mass. These parameters were measured 1 day before (baseline), immediately after and at Days 1 to 3 and 6 after the social interaction took place (Day 0). Social defeat decreased social exploration and increased body temperature substantially for at least 1 day in all birds. Breath rate and body mass were not affected. Birds belonging to the more aggressive and bolder line showed impairment in activity immediately after the social defeat. This is to our knowledge the first report showing that psychosocial stress in birds can have a similar impact as in rodents, but with a shorter recovery time. This might be due to species-specific differences in sensitivity to social stress, or to differences in the way social stress was induced. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-433
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2001
EventInternational Workshop on Social Stress: Acute and Long-Term Effects on Physiology and Behavior - , Italy
Duration: 31-Aug-20002-Sep-2000


  • social defeat
  • stress
  • great tit
  • body temperature
  • breath rate
  • activity
  • coping
  • RATS

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