Prostaglandin F2α facilitates female mating behavior based on male performance

Michael R. Kidd, Peter D. Dijkstra, Callison Alcott, Dagan Lavee, Jacqualine Ma, Lauren A. O'Connell, Hans A. Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Hormones play an important role in the regulation of reproductive behavior. Here, we examined the effects of the fatty acid derivative prostaglandin F2α (PGF2) on female sexual behavior as well as the interaction between PGF2-induced mating behavior with male courtship display in the lek-breeding African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni. In a two-way choice paradigm, we found that nonreproductive females preferred to associate with smaller, less aggressive males over larger, more aggressive males. However, PGF2-treated females dramatically reversed their preference to larger males. In a second experiment, PGF2 treatment dramatically increased sexual behavior in nonreproductive females as measured by time spent in the bower of the stimulus male, even when the female and the stimulus male were separated by a transparent divider. This effect was even more pronounced when the stimulus males were exposed to the putative female pheromone 17α,20β-progesterone (17α,20β-P). Under full-contact conditions, only PGF2-treated females visited a stimulus male's bower, where they even displayed circling behavior usually only seen during spawning. Interestingly, male performance prior to PGF2 treatment predicted female sexual response. Our study demonstrates the importance of PGF2 in the control of female reproductive behavior in interaction with male performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1307-1315
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Astatotilapia burtoni
  • Cichlid
  • Mate choice
  • Prostaglandin F2 alpha
  • Reproductive physiology
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual selection


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