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Reprod Fertil Dev. 2000;12(3-4):229-35.

Seasonal patterns of LH, testosterone and semen quality in the Northern pintail duck (Anas acuta).

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Department of Reproductive Sciences, Conservation Research Center, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Front Royal, Virginia 22630, USA.


This study characterized seasonal changes in circulating LH and testosterone and in semen production and quality in the Northern pintail duck. Plasma LH and testosterone were measured in blood samples collected weekly throughout the year from eight males exposed to natural fluctuations in day length and temperature. Semen quality was evaluated weekly in these same males from April-June, the months when spermatozoa were produced. Semen quality (based on sperm concentration and normal morphology) peaked 0-2 weeks after sperm production onset and decreased sharply before sperm production cessation in late June. Nadir LH concentrations were measured in July and August with peak LH observed in May and November. There were clear seasonal patterns in circulating testosterone with July-September values being less (P<0.05) than October-December which, in turn, were less (P<0.05) than January-March. Maximal circulating testosterone (P<0.05) occurred during April-June, coincident with semen production. Weekly circulating LH during the breeding season was directly related to testosterone concentrations (P<0.01), but was not correlated to any specific semen or sperm trait (P>0.05). Testosterone concentrations throughout the breeding season were correlated (P<0.05) to total numbers of spermatozoa produced (volume x cell concentration) and percent normal sperm morphology. In summary, the Northern pintail experiences seasonal hormone fluctuations, with maximum circulating testosterone coinciding with peak ejaculate quality reflected by the production of high numbers of morphologically normal spermatozoa.

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