Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In mammals, testosterone secretion is known the respond rapidly to changes in males' immediate social environment. However, such changes do not take testosterone levels below the baseline required to maintain spermatogenesis, and so do not usually affect males' fertility. In this paper, we show that individual males' patterns of testicular activity reflect their social roles in a group-living carnivore, the European badger (Meles meles), leading to individual and population differences in the seasonal patterns of both testosterone secretion and, apparently, spermatogenesis. In one badger population, some males left their natal groups to become breeding males in neighbouring territories. These males had higher plasma testosterone levels, and appeared to sustain spermatogenesis for a longer period, than males which remained in their natal territories. In contrast, in a second (higher density) population, males rarely transferred away from their natal territories, and appeared not to defend access to groups to females. Instead, males made forays to mate with females in neighbouring territories. In this population males had a shorter period of testicular activity, and there were no differences in testicular activity between immigrant and natal males.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Zoology

Publication Date





291 - 300