Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Tessa Solomon-Lane

Reader 2

Elise Ferree

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Individual variation in social behavior, neuroendocrine function, and neural gene expression contribute to phenotypic variation. The relationship of these factors in adult social behavior are well studied, yet their nuanced interaction across developmental stages remains elusive. We studied the establishment and maintenance of social status in adult and juvenile Astatotilapia burtoni, a highly social African cichlid fish. Adults form social hierarchies and display highly plastic social status phenotypes. Dominant males are sexually active, aggressive, territorial, and ornately colored compared to reproductively suppressed, submissive, and gray subordinate males. Juveniles form social status, yet little is known about their status and patterns of regulation. We compared dominant and subordinate adults and juveniles at the initiation of status relationships (1-day) and when stable (7-days). We observed social behavior, analyzed water-borne hormones for cortisol, and measured whole brain transcriptome. We found variation in behavioral profiles across status, developmental stage, and time, including the distance travelled to perform behaviors. In week treatments, dominant juveniles perform all distances of approaches and displacements at a higher frequency than subordinates. Dominant adults only perform far approaches and close, middle, and far displacements at a higher frequency than subordinates. Adults and juveniles formed status. Close approaches in dominant adults and far approaches in dominant juveniles were positively related to cortisol. This suggests dominance is regulated by different social behaviors and neuroendocrine mechanisms in adults and juveniles. This work can enhance our understanding of the neural and neuroendocrine basis of social behavior and status across developmental stages in social species.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.