pair bond


Summary: In animals, the social relationship established between a male and female for reproduction. It may include raising of young.

Top Publications

  1. Huffard C, Caldwell R, Boneka F. Male-male and male-female aggression may influence mating associations in wild octopuses (Abdopus aculeatus). J Comp Psychol. 2010;124:38-46 pubmed publisher
    ..Male-female aggression may also be influenced by the sexual nonreceptivity of some individuals, or attempts by both sexes to increase foraging behavior by delaying mate-guarding activity. ..
  2. Lim M, Nair H, Young L. Species and sex differences in brain distribution of corticotropin-releasing factor receptor subtypes 1 and 2 in monogamous and promiscuous vole species. J Comp Neurol. 2005;487:75-92 pubmed
    ..These results suggest possible sites of action for CRF-induced facilitation of pair bond formation in prairie voles, as well as potential sex differences in the CRF modulation of pair bonding...
  3. Young L, Murphy Young A, Hammock E. Anatomy and neurochemistry of the pair bond. J Comp Neurol. 2005;493:51-7 pubmed
    ..suggests that at least three distinct, yet interconnected, neural pathways interact in the establishment of the pair bond. These include circuits involved in conveying somatosensory information from the genitalia to the brain during ..
  4. Ross H, Freeman S, Spiegel L, Ren X, Terwilliger E, Young L. Variation in oxytocin receptor density in the nucleus accumbens has differential effects on affiliative behaviors in monogamous and polygamous voles. J Neurosci. 2009;29:1312-8 pubmed publisher
    Oxytocin receptors in the nucleus accumbens have been implicated in the regulation of alloparental behavior and pair bond formation in the socially monogamous prairie vole...
  5. Liu Y, Wang Z. Nucleus accumbens oxytocin and dopamine interact to regulate pair bond formation in female prairie voles. Neuroscience. 2003;121:537-44 pubmed
    Although oxytocin (OT) and dopamine (DA) have been implicated in pair bond formation in monogamous prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), the nature of potential interactions between these two neurochemical systems and the brain circuits ..
  6. Ross H, Cole C, Smith Y, Neumann I, Landgraf R, Murphy A, et al. Characterization of the oxytocin system regulating affiliative behavior in female prairie voles. Neuroscience. 2009;162:892-903 pubmed publisher
  7. Pitkow L, Sharer C, Ren X, Insel T, Terwilliger E, Young L. Facilitation of affiliation and pair-bond formation by vasopressin receptor gene transfer into the ventral forebrain of a monogamous vole. J Neurosci. 2001;21:7392-6 pubmed
    ..These data demonstrate a role for ventral pallidal V1aR in affiliation and social attachment and provide a potential molecular mechanism for species differences in social organization. ..
  8. Liu Y, Curtis J, Wang Z. Vasopressin in the lateral septum regulates pair bond formation in male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Behav Neurosci. 2001;115:910-9 pubmed
    Male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) form a pair bond with a female partner after mating, and this behavior is regulated by the neuropeptide vasopressin (AVP)...
  9. Reid J, Arcese P, Sardell R, Keller L. Additive genetic variance, heritability, and inbreeding depression in male extra-pair reproductive success. Am Nat. 2011;177:177-87 pubmed publisher
    ..In contrast, any indirect benefit of extra-pair reproduction in terms of producing sons with high additive genetic value for EPRS is most likely to be small...

More Information


  1. Young K, Gobrogge K, Liu Y, Wang Z. The neurobiology of pair bonding: insights from a socially monogamous rodent. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2011;32:53-69 pubmed publisher
    ..These studies may not only contribute to the understanding of pair bonding in our own species, but may also offer insight into the underlying causes of social deficits noted in several mental health disorders. ..
  2. Marasco V, Fusani L, Dessì Fulgheri F, Canoine V. Non-migratory stonechats show seasonal changes in the hormonal regulation of non-seasonal territorial aggression. Horm Behav. 2011;60:414-9 pubmed publisher
    ..In addition, our study supports the hypothesis that migratory status does modulate the intensity of aggressive behavior. ..
  3. Keebaugh A, Young L. Increasing oxytocin receptor expression in the nucleus accumbens of pre-pubertal female prairie voles enhances alloparental responsiveness and partner preference formation as adults. Horm Behav. 2011;60:498-504 pubmed publisher
    ..These results are consistent with the hypothesis that oxytocin can have both long-term "organizational" effects as well as acute "activational" effects on affiliative behaviors. ..
  4. Resendez S, Kuhnmuench M, Krzywosinski T, Aragona B. ?-Opioid receptors within the nucleus accumbens shell mediate pair bond maintenance. J Neurosci. 2012;32:6771-84 pubmed publisher
    ..The establishment of a pair bond is associated with a behavioral transition from general affiliation to aggressive rejection of novel ..
  5. Lim M, Young L. Vasopressin-dependent neural circuits underlying pair bond formation in the monogamous prairie vole. Neuroscience. 2004;125:35-45 pubmed
    Arginine vasopressin and its V1a receptor subtype (V1aR) are critical for pair bond formation between adult prairie voles...
  6. Aragona B, Wang Z. Opposing regulation of pair bond formation by cAMP signaling within the nucleus accumbens shell. J Neurosci. 2007;27:13352-6 pubmed
    ..cAMP production depending on the subtype of receptor activated, we tested the hypothesis that DA regulation of pair bond formation is mediated via the cAMP signaling cascade...
  7. Aragona B, Liu Y, Yu Y, Curtis J, Detwiler J, Insel T, et al. Nucleus accumbens dopamine differentially mediates the formation and maintenance of monogamous pair bonds. Nat Neurosci. 2006;9:133-9 pubmed
    ..We show that dopamine transmission that promotes pair bond formation occurs within the rostral shell of the nucleus accumbens, but not in its core or caudal shell...
  8. Wang Z, Yu G, Cascio C, Liu Y, Gingrich B, Insel T. Dopamine D2 receptor-mediated regulation of partner preferences in female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster): a mechanism for pair bonding?. Behav Neurosci. 1999;113:602-11 pubmed
    ..Together, these data suggest that mating-induced PP requires activation of D2 receptors and that social experience may activate dopaminergic pathways, with enduring effects on behavior. ..
  9. Widdig A. Paternal kin discrimination: the evidence and likely mechanisms. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2007;82:319-34 pubmed
    ..Finally, I discuss the possible cues used in paternal kin discrimination and offer suggestions for future studies. ..
  10. Watts H, Edley B, Hahn T. A potential mate influences reproductive development in female, but not male, pine siskins. Horm Behav. 2016;80:39-46 pubmed publisher
    ..Thus, reproductive timing in females appears to be sensitive to both the presence of a potential mate and her relationship with him. ..
  11. Phelps S, Okhovat M, Berrío A. Individual Differences in Social Behavior and Cortical Vasopressin Receptor: Genetics, Epigenetics, and Evolution. Front Neurosci. 2017;11:537 pubmed publisher
    ..Together the data provide insight into how genetic, epigenetic and evolutionary forces interact to shape the social brain...
  12. Bilbo S, Klein S, DeVries A, Nelson R. Lipopolysaccharide facilitates partner preference behaviors in female prairie voles. Physiol Behav. 1999;68:151-6 pubmed
    ..From a proximate perspective, this study provides evidence that sickness behaviors influence female, but not male, partner preference in prairie voles. ..
  13. Young L, Nilsen R, Waymire K, MacGregor G, Insel T. Increased affiliative response to vasopressin in mice expressing the V1a receptor from a monogamous vole. Nature. 1999;400:766-8 pubmed
    ..These data indicate that the pattern of V1a-receptor gene expression in the brain may be functionally associated with species-typical social behaviours in male vertebrates. ..
  14. Gabor C, Aspbury A, Ma J, Nice C. The role of androgens in species recognition and sperm production in Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana). Physiol Behav. 2012;105:885-92 pubmed publisher
    ..Male Atlantic mollies may not discriminate against Amazon mollies as strongly as male sailfin mollies because Amazon mollies resemble their maternal parental species more than their paternal species. ..
  15. Simmons L. The evolution of polyandry: patterns of genotypic variation in female mating frequency, male fertilization success and a test of the sexy-sperm hypothesis. J Evol Biol. 2003;16:624-34 pubmed
    ..Surprisingly there was a very strong genetic correlation between these two traits. The significance of this genetic correlation for the coevolution of male seminal products and polyandry is discussed. ..
  16. Sheldon B. Relating paternity to paternal care. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2002;357:341-50 pubmed
    ..My conclusion is that although there are some cases where the models have qualitative support, we are a long way from understanding whether paternal care is commonly adjusted in relation to certainty of paternity. ..
  17. Sachser N, Dürschlag M, Hirzel D. Social relationships and the management of stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1998;23:891-904 pubmed
    ..This is true irrespective of whether the bonding partner is the mother, in the case of an infant, or a male or a female in the case of an adult individual. ..
  18. Carp S, Rothwell E, Bourdon A, Freeman S, Ferrer E, Bales K. Development of a partner preference test that differentiates between established pair bonds and other relationships in socially monogamous titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus). Am J Primatol. 2016;78:326-39 pubmed publisher
    ..This test can be used as a standardized measure of partner preference in titi monkeys to quantitatively study pair bonding and evaluate factors influencing partner preference. ..
  19. Issa F, Drummond J, Cattaert D, Edwards D. Neural circuit reconfiguration by social status. J Neurosci. 2012;32:5638-45 pubmed publisher
  20. Liu Y, Young K, Curtis J, Aragona B, Wang Z. Social bonding decreases the rewarding properties of amphetamine through a dopamine D1 receptor-mediated mechanism. J Neurosci. 2011;31:7960-6 pubmed publisher
    ..Together, our data demonstrate that pair-bonding experience decreases the rewarding properties of AMPH through a D1R-mediated mechanism...
  21. Hill W, Ballard S, Coyer M, Rowley T. The interaction of testosterone and breeding phase on the reproductive behavior and use of space of male zebra finches. Horm Behav. 2005;47:452-8 pubmed
    ..These results underscore the importance of considering breeding phase in assessing the behavioral sensitivity to hormones. ..
  22. Johnsen A, Lifjeld J. Ecological constraints on extra-pair paternity in the bluethroat. Oecologia. 2003;136:476-83 pubmed
  23. Lynch K, Crews D, Ryan M, Wilczynski W. Hormonal state influences aspects of female mate choice in the Túngara Frog (Physalaemus pustulosus). Horm Behav. 2006;49:450-7 pubmed
    ..S., Ryan, M.J., Wilczynski, W., 2005. Plasticity in female mate choice associated with changing reproductive states. Anim. Behav. 69, 689-699), suggesting that changes in hormone levels can influence the female's mate choice behavior. ..
  24. Gill S, Costa L, Hau M. Males of a single-brooded tropical bird species do not show increases in testosterone during social challenges. Horm Behav. 2008;54:115-24 pubmed publisher
  25. Wolovich C, Feged A, Evans S, Green S. Social patterns of food sharing in monogamous owl monkeys. Am J Primatol. 2006;68:663-74 pubmed
    ..This pattern of food sharing between mates in a monogamous species may serve both nutritional and social functions that differ from those in polygamous species. ..
  26. Pitnick S, Miller G, Reagan J, Holland B. Males' evolutionary responses to experimental removal of sexual selection. Proc Biol Sci. 2001;268:1071-80 pubmed
    ..The results indicate that sexual selection favours the production of increased numbers of sperm in D. melanogaster and that sexual selection favours some male traits conferring a direct cost to the fecundity of females. ..
  27. Fernandez Duque E, Huck M. Till death (or an intruder) do us part: intrasexual-competition in a monogamous primate. PLoS ONE. 2013;8:e53724 pubmed publisher
    ..Instead, we suggest that sexual selection models must assume not equal, but flexible, context-specific, OSR in monogamous species. ..
  28. Campbell J, Laugero K, van Westerhuyzen J, Hostetler C, Cohen J, Bales K. Costs of pair-bonding and paternal care in male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Physiol Behav. 2009;98:367-73 pubmed publisher
    ..These results suggest that cohabitation with a female, and caring for pups, all have costs for male prairie voles. ..
  29. Hasselquist D, Kempenaers B. Parental care and adaptive brood sex ratio manipulation in birds. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2002;357:363-72 pubmed
  30. Glasper E, Devries A. Social structure influences effects of pair-housing on wound healing. Brain Behav Immun. 2005;19:61-8 pubmed
    ..californicus or P. eremicus. In contrast, restraint facilitated wound healing in P. leucopus. Taken together, these data suggest that social contact facilitates wound healing in two monogamous, but not a polygynous, mouse species. ..
  31. Dunbar R, Shultz S. Evolution in the social brain. Science. 2007;317:1344-7 pubmed
    ..This may explain why primate sociality seems to be so different from that found in most other birds and mammals: Primate sociality is based on bonded relationships of a kind that are found only in pairbonds in other taxa. ..
  32. Royle N, Hopwood P, Head M. Burying beetles. Curr Biol. 2013;23:R907-9 pubmed publisher
  33. Resendez S, Dome M, Gormley G, Franco D, Nevarez N, Hamid A, et al. ?-Opioid receptors within subregions of the striatum mediate pair bond formation through parallel yet distinct reward mechanisms. J Neurosci. 2013;33:9140-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Such studies have demonstrated that activation of reward circuitry during social interactions facilitates pair bond formation...
  34. Emery N, Seed A, von Bayern A, Clayton N. Cognitive adaptations of social bonding in birds. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2007;362:489-505 pubmed
    ..Although social interactions within a pair may seem simple on the surface, we argue that cognition may play an important role in the maintenance of long-term relationships, something we name as 'relationship intelligence'. ..
  35. Northcutt K, Lonstein J. Neuroanatomical projections of the species-specific tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive cells of the male prairie vole bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and medial amygdala. Brain Behav Evol. 2011;77:176-92 pubmed publisher
    ..By connecting brain sites involved in olfaction, sociality and motivation, this network may be essential for monogamous behaviors in this species. ..
  36. Logue D. Duetting in space: a radio-telemetry study of the black-bellied wren. Proc Biol Sci. 2007;274:3005-10 pubmed
    ..I conclude that in the black-bellied wren, (i) the occurrence and duration of vocal duets covary with physical closeness and (ii) contact maintenance is a secondary function of duet participation. ..
  37. Baskerville T, Douglas A. Dopamine and oxytocin interactions underlying behaviors: potential contributions to behavioral disorders. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2010;16:e92-123 pubmed publisher
    ..Central oxytocin pathways may serve as a potential therapeutic target to improve mood and socio-affiliative behaviors in patients with profound social deficits and/or drug addiction. ..
  38. Thiebot J, Bost C, Dehnhard N, Demongin L, Eens M, Lepoint G, et al. Mates but not sexes differ in migratory niche in a monogamous penguin species. Biol Lett. 2015;11:20150429 pubmed
    ..We suggest that dispersive migration patterns with sex-biased timings may be a sufficient proximal cause for generating such a situation in migratory animals. ..
  39. Miyatake T, Matsumura F. Intra-specific variation in female remating in Callosobruchus chinensis and C. maculatus. J Insect Physiol. 2004;50:403-8 pubmed
    ..The shorter mating duration (approximately 26 s) was similar to that of females allowed to remate in the monogamous strain in experiment 1. ..
  40. Alberts S. Paternal kin discrimination in wild baboons. Proc Biol Sci. 1999;266:1501-6 pubmed
    ..Age proximity may thus be an important social cue for paternal relatedness, and phenotype matching based on shared paternal traits may play a role as well. ..
  41. van Anders S, Goldey K, Kuo P. The Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds: integrating testosterone and peptide responses for classifying social behavioral contexts. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011;36:1265-75 pubmed publisher
    ..The S/P Theory provides a comparative basis for conceptualizing and testing evolved hormonal pathways to pair bonds with attention to species, context, and gender/sex specificities and convergences. ..
  42. Kosztolányi A, Székely T, Cuthill I, Yilmaz K, Berberoglu S. Ecological constraints on breeding system evolution: the influence of habitat on brood desertion in Kentish plover. J Anim Ecol. 2006;75:257-65 pubmed
    ..Abundant food resources appear to have profound implications on spatial distribution of broods, and the social interactions between broods constrain female desertion and polyandry. ..
  43. Henley C, Nunez A, Clemens L. Hormones of choice: the neuroendocrinology of partner preference in animals. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2011;32:146-54 pubmed publisher
    ..Additional paradigms that address these questions are needed for better understanding of partner preferences in rodents. ..
  44. Gowaty P, Hubbell S. Reproductive decisions under ecological constraints: it's about time. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009;106 Suppl 1:10017-24 pubmed publisher
    ..The primary prediction of the SPT is that each decision a focal individual makes is determined jointly by e, s, l, n, and the w distribution. ..
  45. Szekely T, Cuthill I. Trade-off between mating opportunities and parental care: brood desertion by female Kentish plovers. Proc Biol Sci. 2000;267:2087-92 pubmed
    ..These predictions were fulfilled, indicating that seasonally modulated trade-offs between current brood value and remating opportunities can be important in the desertion decisions of species with flexible patterns of parental care. ..
  46. Schneiderman I, Kanat Maymon Y, Ebstein R, Feldman R. Cumulative risk on the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) underpins empathic communication difficulties at the first stages of romantic love. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014;9:1524-9 pubmed publisher
  47. Kabelik D, Klatt J, Kingsbury M, Goodson J. Endogenous vasotocin exerts context-dependent behavioral effects in a semi-naturalistic colony environment. Horm Behav. 2009;56:101-7 pubmed publisher
    ..We examine the role of VT in the regulation of aggression and courtship, and in pair bond formation and maintenance, over the course of three days...
  48. Rukstalis M, French J. Vocal buffering of the stress response: exposure to conspecific vocalizations moderates urinary cortisol excretion in isolated marmosets. Horm Behav. 2005;47:1-7 pubmed
    ..quot; ..
  49. Moscovice L, Ziegler T. Peripheral oxytocin in female baboons relates to estrous state and maintenance of sexual consortships. Horm Behav. 2012;62:592-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Our results suggest that physiological and behavioral changes associated with the initiation and maintenance of short-term inter-sexual relationships in baboons correspond with changes in peripheral OT...
  50. Young K, Liu Y, Wang Z. The neurobiology of social attachment: A comparative approach to behavioral, neuroanatomical, and neurochemical studies. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2008;148:401-10 pubmed publisher
    ..We will then summarize the data implicating vasopressin, oxytocin, and dopamine in the regulation of pair bonding. Finally, we will discuss the ways in which these neurochemical systems may interact to mediate this complex behavior. ..
  51. Faulkes C, Bennett N. Plasticity and constraints on social evolution in African mole-rats: ultimate and proximate factors. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013;368:20120347 pubmed publisher
  52. Kabelik D, Morrison J, Goodson J. Cryptic regulation of vasotocin neuronal activity but not anatomy by sex steroids and social stimuli in opportunistic desert finches. Brain Behav Evol. 2010;75:71-84 pubmed publisher
  53. Young L, Zaun B, Vanderwerf E. Successful same-sex pairing in Laysan albatross. Biol Lett. 2008;4:323-5 pubmed publisher