The influence of androgenic steroid hormones on female aggression in 'atypical' mammals

Jeffrey A. French, Aaryn C. Mustoe, Jon Cavanaugh, Andrew K. Birnie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Dimorphism on dominance and agonistic behaviour in mammals tends to be strongly biased toward males. In this review, we focus on a select few species of mammals in which females are as or more aggressive than males, and/or are dominant to males, and explore the role of androgenic hormones in mediating this important difference. While the data are not as clear-cut as those published on traditional laboratory mammals, our review highlights important endocrine substrates for both organizational and activational influences of steroids on female aggressive behaviour. We highlight areas in which further observations and experiments are crucial, especially the potential facilitative effects of androgens on female aggression. Finally, new and innovative techniques, including molecular genetics and receptor pharmacology, portend important insights into the ways in which androgenic hormones regulate aggressive behaviour in 'atypical' female mammals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20130084
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1631
StatePublished - Jan 5 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Activational effects
  • Aggression
  • Dominance
  • Mammals
  • Organizational effects
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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