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Reproductive physiology of the female greater bilby (Macrotis lagotisThylacomyidae): evidence for a male-induced luteal phase

Ballantyne, K., Matson, P., Noakes, N., Nicolson, V. and Johnston, S.D. (2009) Reproductive physiology of the female greater bilby (Macrotis lagotisThylacomyidae): evidence for a male-induced luteal phase. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 21 (2). pp. 274-282.

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Endocrinology of the oestrous cycle, pregnancy and early lactation was investigated in captive Western Australian greater bilbies (Macrotis lagotis). Initially, six females were monitored for changes in urogenital cytology, plasma progestogen, pericloacal and pouch morphology in the absence of a male. This was followed by the introduction of a male and a reproductive assessment through mating, gestation and early lactation. In the absence of a male, there was no cyclical pattern of urogenital cytology, pericloacal or pouch development, and progestogen concentrations remained basal. Within 5 days of the introduction of a male, all females had a karyopycnotic index of 100%. Spermatozoa were present in the urogenital smear within 3 days of male introduction in all five females that gave birth. Five to 9 days after the introduction of a male, there was an increase in plasma progestogen concentration that remained elevated for 14-19 days. Six of the seven females gave birth approximately 3 days after reaching peak plasma progestogen concentrations. Gestation length ranged between 14 and 17 days. Plasma progestogen concentrations of the postpartum and early lactation period were lower (P < 0.0001) than during gestation, but greater (P < 0.0001) than those recorded before the introduction of a male. One female that gave birth early in the study that was examined until weaning of the pouch young showed a cyclical pattern of plasma progestogen secretion that ended at weaning. This study provides evidence that the luteal phase in the greater bilby is induced by the presence of a male. Similar to female reproductive physiology in the Peramelidae, elevated progestogen concentration in the greater bilby was extended into lactation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 2009
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