Journal of Reproduction and Development
Online ISSN : 1348-4400
Print ISSN : 0916-8818
Original Article
Seasonal changes in circulating gonadal steroid levels and physiological evidence for the presence of intrinsic circannual reproductive cycles in captive finless porpoises Neophocaena asiaeorientalis from the western Inland Sea, Japan
Noriko FUNASAKAMotoi YOSHIOKAToshiaki ISHIBASHIToshiyuki TATSUKAWAHideaki SHINDOKoji TAKADAMasayuki NAKAMURATomohiko IWATAKaoru FUJIMARUTaira TANAKA
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Volume 64 (2018) Issue 2 Pages 145-152

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Abstract

We monitored annual fluctuations of gonadal steroid levels in three sexually mature captive finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis; two males and one female) from two different facilities over 56–91 months. Two animals (one male and one female) were held in an indoor tank with a sunroof (facility A) and the other male was held in an indoor tank without a sunroof (facility B). Water temperatures in both facilities reflected seasonal changes during the study period with a minor difference in the fluctuation pattern. Testosterone levels of the male in facility A were higher from spring to summer every year and exhibited a 12-month cycle. The female showed estrus cycles in 1-month intervals from summer to winter, excluding 2 anestrus years. In contrast, the period of higher testosterone levels of the male in facility B gradually initiated earlier over the years under a constant photoperiod (11.5L:12.5D) and exhibited a 9-month cycle during the first 52 months. After changing the light conditions to a natural photoperiod, its testosterone levels were high from early spring to summer for 3 consecutive years and exhibited a 12-month cycle. Our results showed that under a constant artificial photoperiod, the male in facility B failed to recognize the seasonal changes of a natural external environment, resulting in a 9-month, free-running hormone cycle.

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