Pheromones and sexual behavior in birds

Sexual arousal, is it for mammals only? Hormones and Behavior, In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 9 November 2010 Gregory F. Ball, Jacques Balthazart

The article (linked above) about avian sexual arousal may interest those who are familiar with the gene-cell-tissue-organ-organ system pathway that is required to link sexually dimorphic sensory input from the social environment to sex differences in behavior. Unlike the observational / theoretical approach of early ethologists, this article details the biological basis of sex differences in behavior associated with sensory input. As is the case with rats and most if not all other mammals, olfactory cues condition the sexual response. Conditioning is via experience and can also be associated with arbitrary sensory cues. Though the overriding influence of olfactory cues is obscured by some statements (e.g., “Quail, like other birds, predominantly use visual and auditory stimuli in their social life while olfactory or tactile sensations only play a minor role…”), those interested in looking further will read (e.g., …”neural activation (c-fos induction) observed during copulation in male quail primarily results from the perception of olfactory stimuli originating from the female…”) Olfactory primacy is central to my model for the development of sexual preferences across species (e.g, including birds).

See also (full text available for free) Site-specific effects of anosmia and cloacal gland anesthesia on Fos expression induced in male quail brain by sexual behavior. Taziaux M, Keller M, Ball GF, Balthazart J. Behav Brain Res. 2008 Dec 1;194(1):52-65. “These results therefore call for a re-analysis of the role of olfaction in the control of sexual behavior in birds…”

Author: jim