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Smit JAH, R Vooijs, P Lindenburg, AT Baugh*, W Halfwerk*
Hormones and Behavior, Volume 157, 105453
Publication year: 2024

Urban areas are characterised by the presence of sensory pollutants, such as anthropogenic noise and artificial light at night (ALAN). Animals can quickly adapt to novel environmental conditions by adjusting their behaviour, which is proximately regulated by endocrine systems. While endocrine responses to sensory pollution have been widely reported, this has not often been linked to changes in behaviour, hampering the understanding of adaptiveness of endocrine responses. Our aim was, therefore, to investigate the effects of urbanisation, specifically urban noise and light pollution, on hormone levels in male urban and forest tĂșngara frogs (Engystomops pustulosus), a species with reported population divergence in behaviour in response to urbanisation. We quantified testosterone and corticosterone release rates in the field and in the lab before and after exposure to urban noise and/or light. We show that urban and forest frogs differ in their endocrine phenotypes under field as well as lab conditions. Moreover, in urban frogs exposure to urban noise and light led, respectively, to an increase in testosterone and decrease in corticosterone, whereas in forest frogs sensory pollutants did not elicit any endocrine response. Our results show that urbanisation, specifically noise and light pollution, can modulate hormone levels in urban and forest populations differentially. The observed endocrine responses are consistent with the observed behavioural changes in urban frogs, providing a proximate explanation for the presumably adaptive behavioural changes in response to urbanisation.