Plasma steroid concentrations change in response to sexual behavior in Bufo marinus

Miles Orchinik, Paul Licht, David Crews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Steroid hormone concentrations change in response to social or environmental stimuli in many vertebrates. To test this phenomenon in an amphibian, we examined plasma androgen (A) and corticosterone (B) concentrations in male marine toads (Bufo marinus), a tropical species exhibiting intermale competition, amplectic clasping of females, and bouts of breeding behavior following rains. When males clasped females for 0, 1, 2, or 3 hr, plasma A concentrations were significantly and positively correlated with hours spent in amplexus. In field-sampled males, plasma A concentrations were higher in amplexing males than in single males. Among single males those found closer to breeding ponds had higher A concentrations than those more distant. These data support the hypothesis that sexual stimuli enhance plasma A concentrations in this amphibian. In 3-hr experimental tests and field-sampled males, B concentrations were higher in amplexing than in single males. Unlike some amphibians, short-term elevations of B apparently are not associated with decreased reproductive function. However, as in other amphibians in which high B concentrations are associated with stress-induced inhibition of reproduction, after 48-72 hr in captivity male toads showed high B concentrations and low plasma androgen concentrations. The bursts of sexual activities exhibited by B. Marinus following heavy rains were associated with no changes in A concentration and with increased B concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-350
Number of pages13
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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