Author(s): Shanas U, Haim A
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Abstract The time for reproduction in mammals largely depends on the availability of water and food in their habitat. Therefore, in regions where rains are limited to definite seasons of the year, mammals presumably will restrict their breeding correspondingly. But while mammals living in predictable ecosystems would benefit by timing their season to an ultimate predictable cue, such as photoperiod, in unpredictable ecosystems (e.g., deserts) they will need to use a more proximate signal. We suggest a mechanism by which water shortage (low water content in plants) could act as a proximate cue for ending the reproductive season. The golden spiny mouse (Acomys russatus), a diurnal rodent living in extreme deserts, may face an increased dietary salt content as the summer progresses and the vegetation becomes dry. Under laboratory conditions, increased diet salinity lead to reproductive hiatus in females, notable in imperforated vagina, and a significant decrease in the ovaries, uteri, and body masses. In females treated with vasopressin (VP), a hormone expressed during water stress, the uteri and body masses have decreased significantly, and the ovaries exhibited an increased number of atretic follicles. VP has also led to a significant decrease in relative medullary thickness (RMT) of the kidney. It is thus suggested that VP could act as a modulator linking the reproductive system with water economy in desert rodents, possibly through its act on the energetic pathways.
This article was published in Physiol Behav
and referenced in Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology