Central Monoamines in Free-Ranging Lizards: Differences Associated with Social Roles and Territoriality

John M. Matter, Patrick J. Ronan, Cliff H. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


During the breeding season different social classes of field-active lizards, Sceloporus jarrovi, exhibit regionally specific changes in central monoaminergic activation. Changes in serotonergic content and turnover between lizards from different social classes are seen in forebrain structures (telencephalon and diencephalon) and reflect events associated with reproductive behaviors, stress and aggression. Males without territories (satellite males) exhibit higher forebrain serotonin (5-HT) system activation compared to territorial males and adult females. This serotonergic activation includes increased 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio, suggesting increased release and catabolism. Satellite males also exhibit higher 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios (serotonergic turnover) compared to territorial males following agonistic interactions. Territorial males, immediately following aggressive defense of territories against intruder males, exhibit increased 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) levels, higher 5-HIAA levels and 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio, higher epinephrine levels, greater MHPG/NE, more DOPAC and larger DOPAC/DA ratio compared to territorial males that did not have an aggressive encounter. These differences suggest activation of 5-HT, norepinephrine (NE), and dopamine (DA) systems by the synthesis and release of more 5-HT and the release of more NE and DA during aggressive defense of territory. The highest activity of serotonergic systems is exhibited by satellite males compared to territorial males, perhaps reflecting stress in subordinate animals from social and ecological sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid
  • Aggression
  • Dopamine
  • Reptile
  • Sceloporus jarrovi
  • Serotonin
  • Social dominance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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