Exploring Canid Monogamy: Characterization of the Distribution of Oxytocin Receptors in the Brain of the Coyote (Canis latrans)

Trevor D. Anderson and Dr. Sara Freeman Department of Biology, Utah State University 5305 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that has been shown to be a factor in species that display social monogamy. Its neural actions are necessary for social memory of familiar individuals of the same species. Much research has been done on oxytocin receptors (OXTR) in the brains of socially monogamous rodents and non-human primates, and these studies have demonstrated a critical role of oxytocin in the neurobiology of social attachment. Coyotes are a unique species in the context of social research because they are socially monogamous and have been shown to also exhibit sexual and genetic monogamy. The goal of the current study is to establish the distribution of OXTR throughout the coyote forebrain in order to compare their receptor map to other known monogamous species and to lay the neuroanatomical foundation for future studies of the oxytocin system of coyotes. In order to map coyote OXTR, we used five brains that were opportunistically collected from captive-housed coyotes at the USDA Millville Predator Research Center. The samples were fresh frozen on dry ice within hours of death and sectioned at 20 micron sections using a cryostat. We will process them using OXTR autoradiography according to procedures that are well established in the literature. Our area of interest include regions previously shown to be important in social behavior in other monogamous mammals: the nucleus accumbens, striatum, lateral septum, cingulate cortex, and the hypothalamic regions where oxytocin is synthesized, the supraoptic nucleus and the paraventricular nucleus. We expect to find a high density of OXTR receptors in all of our regions of interest. To our knowledge, this study is the first to examine measures of the oxytocin system in coyotes and will serve as the basis for future research on the biological basis of sociality in coyotes.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Trevor Anderson

Institution: Utah State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 3
Date/Time: Mon 4:30pm-5:30pm
Session Number: 3140