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Female reproductive responses to photoperiod and male odours in the subterranean rodentCtenomys talarum

Abstract

The tuco-tucoCtenomys talarum Thomas, 1898 is a solitary subterranean rodent that breeds seasonally in coastal sand-dune grasslands from Argentina. We assessed whether short-day photoperiod determines the onset of reproduction by an increase in female’s receptivity and whether male odour interacts with photoperiod as a cue by producing a greater response in receptivity. Receptivity was measured by an increase in the percentage of vaginal epithelial cells, particularly cornified cells. Females were trapped during their non-reproductive season (summer-long days) and randomly assigned to different day-length experimental groups: constant summer (CS), early winter (EW), and natural (NA) photoperiod. We examined the vaginal epithelium using vaginal smears during the first experimental phase (120 days) to test the effect of photoperiod. In the second experimental phase (15 days), we presented the females with male-soiled shavings to test the effect of photoperiod and male odor.Ctenomys talarum females showed some evidence of reproductive responsiveness to photoperiodic cuing. The proportion of epithelial cells peaked earlier in females when winter day-length was advanced than in females under natural photoperiod. Contrary to that expected, male odours did not stimulate female receptivity. These results suggest that, while photoperiod may participate in regulating reproduction, the integration of other environmental and social factors, as well as the identification of bodily conditions that lead to differences in individual response needs further consideration.

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Associate editor was P. David Polly.

Associate editor was P. David Polly.

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Fanjul, M.S., Zenuto, R.R. Female reproductive responses to photoperiod and male odours in the subterranean rodentCtenomys talarum . Acta Theriol 53, 73–85 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03194280

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Key words

  • Ctenomys
  • odours
  • photoperiod
  • subterranean rodents
  • vaginal smears