A series of experiments were conducted with wild house mice to verify the effect of intrauterine position on females' anogenital distance at birth (AGD) and to examine the relationships between a female's AGD, used as a bioassay of androgen exposure during fetal life, and her social behavior and reproductive success in adulthood. Experiment 1 showed that cesarean-delivered females that developed in utero between two males (2 M females) have significantly longer AGD's than females positioned between two females (0 M females). We then categorized naturally delivered females shortly after birth as having a long, medium or short AGD. In adulthood, these females were tested for their behavior towards unfamiliar pups, their rate of urine-marking in response to a variety of social stimuli, postpartum aggression and success in protecting their litters in response to male and female intruders. Adult females with different AGD's at birth did not differ either in their behavior toward pups or in their rate of urine marking. Conversely, males housed across a wire mesh partition from a long-AGD female deposited a higher number of urine marks than those exposed to a short-AGD female. When tested after delivering a litter, long-AGD females displayed more tail-rattling (a component of agonistic behavior) towards intruders of both sexes in comparison to short-AGD females. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that females with a long AGD are exposed to higher levels of Testosterone during fetal life than females with a short AGD. Although not related to AGD, other measures of maternal aggression were affected by postpartum day, sex of intruders and a female's infanticidal potential while a virgin.
Urine marking and maternal aggression of wild female mice in relation to anogenital distance at birth / Paola Palanza; Stefano Parmigiani; Fred S. vom Saal. - In: PHYSIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR. - ISSN 0031-9384. - 58 (5)(1995), pp. 827-835. [10.1016/0031-9384(95)00107-T]