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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Catherine A Marler
  • (608) 262-5598
  • Anthony P Auger
Award Date:12/09/2019
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 952,999
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 952,999
  • FY 2020=$952,999
Start Date:01/15/2020
End Date:12/31/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Mechanisms of Behavioral Synchrony and Division of Labor in a Monogamous Mammalian Species, the California Mouse
Federal Award ID Number:1946613
DUNS ID:161202122
Parent DUNS ID:041188822
Program:Animal Behavior
Program Officer:
  • Jodie Jawor
  • (703) 292-7887

Awardee Location

Street:21 North Park Street
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Wisconsin- Madison
Street:1202 West Johnson Street
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

Many complex social interactions need to occur to form a coordinated family unit. The importance of coordinated behaviors will be examined during courtship in both forming bonds between a pair and predicting future ability to coordinate behaviors necessary for raising young. Using the California mouse as a model, a long-standing question in behavior will be tested: how can a courting pair in a biparental monogamous species assess ability to raise young in the future? Coordination in behavior will be examined by synchrony measurements, as well as ability to divide labor, both of which are important aspects of coordination depending on the complexity of the social and environmental challenges. In a biparental species like the California mouse, the birth of young is a significant event and pairs are expected to transition from largely synchronized behaviors prior to birth to greater division of labor after birth in response to competing time and energy demands. The role of oxytocin, and its sites of action in the brain, in coordinating behavior also will be explored through effects on both synchrony and the behavioral coordination of pairs. It is expected that oxytocin will link different types of behavioral coordination across life history stages. This will increase understanding of behavioral coordination in a family unit, a topic important for understanding human family dynamics. Graduate and undergraduate students, as well as underrepresented high school students, will be trained and exposed to research through a diversity of venues. Additionally, seminars will be given both locally and throughout Wisconsin communities, along with and an outreach component through an animal behavior blog. Behavioral synchrony and division of labor (DOL) are critical for coordinating male-female pair behavior and raising viable offspring. In the biparental California mouse (Peromyscus californicus), the roles of synchrony and DOL will be examined with three hypotheses. (1) Courtship synchrony strengthens pair bonding and contributes to increased fitness. Variation in courtship synchrony, and its impact on fitness, will be manipulated and measured through location and temporal matching of movement and acoustic behaviors. Pair bond strength will be assessed by measuring pair interactions under varying conditions. (2) Courtship synchrony is a mechanism for pairs to assess future ability to coordinate behavior, allowing pair bonding but also DOL for raising offspring. Pairs with and without pups will be given food and intruder challenges. It is proposed that greater courtship synchrony will predict greater synchrony in low challenge tasks and greater DOL in high challenge tasks. 3) Oxytocin underlies synchrony during courtship and coordination of behavior after pair formation. Pair social coordination is likely influenced by oxytocin, known for effects on bonding and social salience; however, the role of oxytocin remains underexplored in long-term behavioral coordination of pairs. The research will examine whether oxytocin-induced changes in behavioral coordination and brain activity via intranasal infusions are blocked by infusion of intracerebroventricular oxytocin or vasopressin receptor antagonists. It is predicted that stimulation of these receptors will activate limbic and cortical brain regions associated with reward and behavioral coordination. Overall this project reveals behavioral and neural mechanisms needed to create a successful family unit through bonding and behavioral coordination. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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