Predatory aggression, but not maternal or intermale aggression, is associated with high voluntary wheel-running behavior in mice

Stephen C. Gammie, Nina S. Hasen, Justin S. Rhodes, Isabelle Girard, Theodore Garland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Predatory (towards crickets), intermale, and maternal aggression were examined in four replicate lines of mice that had been selectively bred for high wheel-running (S) and in four random-bred control lines (C). In generation 18, individual differences in both predatory and intermale aggression were significantly consistent across four trial days, but predatory and intermale aggression were uncorrelated both at the individual level and among the eight line means. Latencies to attack crickets were significantly lower in S lines as a group. Intermale aggression, however, did not differ between S and C lines. S lines were significantly smaller in body mass, but did not differ in either testes mass or plasma testosterone. In generations 28 and 30, respectively, S and C lines did not differ in either maternal or intermale aggression. However, significant differences among the individual lines were found for maternal aggression, and one S line exhibited an extremely high mean time of aggression (>120 sec for a 5-min test). Maternal and intermale aggression were not correlated among the eight line means or at the level of individual variation. Overall, our results suggest: (1) predatory aggression and voluntary wheel-running are positively related at the genetic level; (2) predatory and intermale aggression are unrelated at a genetic level; and (3) maternal and intermale aggression are not tightly related at the genetic level. Possible relationships between predatory aggression, dopamine, and wheel-running behavior are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial selection
  • Dopamine
  • Exercise
  • Intermale aggression
  • Lactation
  • Maternal aggression
  • Mice
  • Predatory aggression
  • Wheel running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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