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Mammalian hibernation. XIII. Some problems of reproduction in relation to hibernation in bats

Mammalian hibernation. XIII. Some problems of reproduction in relation to hibernation in bats

Bull Mus Comp Zool Harvard Univ 124: 249-267

Bats are unique among hibernating mammals in that hibernation begins shortly after the initiation of reproductive activity in the fall, and results in retardation of the cycle and postponement of its completion until after hibernation's end in the spring. This circumstance has led to some unusual reproductive adaptations in both sexes which are reviewed. The morphology of reproductive events is well known in many hibernating bats, but an integrated picture of the underlying physiological mechanisms has yet to be obtained. Attention is focused on certain key problems, viz. the endocrine status of the testis during hibernation and the apparent asynchronous production of spermatozoa and androgen in the male, and the delay of ovulation in the female, with special reference to the physiological implications of recent researches into these problems, and some possible directions for future research. Present evidence indicates that in the female, ovulatory delay is conditioned by insufficient production of ovulating hormone (LH) during hibernation, complicated by an inability of torpid tissues to respond to hormone stimulation. Experimental results also indicate the probable participation of neural mechanisms in the ovulation response, and in the condi tioning of seasonal reproductive periodicity in hibernating bats.

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