[MARMAM] New publication on oxytocin and pro-social behaviour in seals

Kelly Robinson kjr33 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Mon May 29 04:56:00 PDT 2017

Dear MARMAM subscribers,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce a new publication on the neuropeptide hormone oxytocin and its effects on pro-social behaviours in grey seals:

Robinson, K.J., Twiss, S.D., Hazon, N., Moss, S. & Pomeroy, P.P. (2017).

Positive social behaviours are induced  and retained after oxytocin manipulations mimicking endogenous  concentrations in a wild mammal

Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0554


The neuropeptide hormone oxytocin modulates numerous social and parental behaviours across a wide range of species, including humans. We conducted manipulation experiments on wild grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) to determine whether oxytocin increases proximity-seeking behaviour, which has previously been correlated with endogenous oxytocin concentrations in wild seal populations. Pairs of seals that had never met previously were given intravenous injections of 0.41 µg kg−1 oxytocin or saline and were observed for 1 h post-manipulation. The dose was designed to mimic endogenous oxytocin concentrations during the observation period, and is one of the lowest doses used to manipulate behaviour to date. Seals given oxytocin spent significantly more time in close proximity to each other, confirming that oxytocin causes conspecifics to seek others out and remain close to one another. Aggressive and investigative behaviours also significantly fell after oxytocin manipulations. Despite using a minimal oxytocin dose, pro-social behavioural changes unexpectedly persisted for 2 days despite rapid dose clearance from circulation post-injection. This study verifies that oxytocin promotes individuals staying together, demonstrating how the hormone can form positive feedback loops of oxytocin release following conspecific stimuli, increased motivation to remain in close proximity and additional oxytocin release from stimuli received while in close proximity.

The article can be found at: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1855/20170554<http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0144577>

The article is open access; so anyone who is interested in the manuscript should be able to download a pdf of it. However if you have any problems getting a copy please email kjr33 at st-andrews.ac.uk<mailto:kjr33 at st-andrews.ac.uk>.

Kind regards,

Kelly Robinson

Dr Kelly Robinson

Research Fellow

Sea Mammal Research Unit

Scottish Oceans Institute

University of St Andrews

KY16 8LB

Tel: +44(0)1334 462635

Twitter: @KJRScience

Lab Twitter: @_SMRU_

For more information about my research please visit: https://kellyrobinsonscience.wordpress.com/

The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland : No SC013532
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