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M. H. Ferkin and I. Zucker

Summary. During the spring–summer breeding season, female meadow voles prefer odours of males over those of females, but in the autumn–winter season of reproductive quiescence this preference is reversed. Females housed in long (14 h light/day) and short (10 h light/day) photoperiods, respectively, had odour preferences comparable to those of spring and autumn voles, respectively. The preference of long-photoperiod voles for male over female odours was reversed by ovariectomy and restored by treatment with oestradiol. By contrast, neither ovariectomy nor oestradiol affected odour preferences of short-photoperiod voles. Long days appear to influence olfactory preferences by altering ovarian hormone secretion. The failure of oestradiol to affect odour preferences in short photoperiods suggests that the neural substrates mediating this behavioural response are refractory to oestrogens during the nonbreeding season.

Keywords: odour preferences; seasonality; photoperiod; oestradiol; vole

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F. J. Schweigert and H. Zucker

Summary. The degree of atresia of the follicle had no influence on the intrafollicular concentrations of β-carotene, vitamin E and cholesterol. This might result from the passive transfer of these substances from blood to follicular fluid bound to high density lipoproteins. However, concentrations of vitamin A in follicular fluid were significantly (P < 0·001) influenced by follicle quality, with highest concentrations (0·32 μg/ml) in non-atretic follicles and lowest values (0·15 μg/ml) in greatly atretic follicles. The higher concentrations of vitamin A in healthy follicles might be due to a local conversion of β-carotene into vitamin A in follicular structures. By influencing hormone and protein synthesis, vitamin A may have a potential for local modulation of follicular development and therefore be one of the factors controlling recruitment, selection and growth of the dominant follicle in cattle.

Keywords: follicular fluid; vitamin A; β-carotene; vitamin E; fertility; cattle

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M. H. Ferkin, M. R. Gorman, and I. Zucker

Summary. Free-living male meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) emit odours that are attractive to females at the beginning, but not at the end, of the breeding season. The effect of gonadal hormones on female-attractant cues was examined in males born and reared in long (14 h light day−1) and short (10 h light day−1) photoperiods that simulate daylengths in the breeding and nonbreeding seasons, respectively. Gonadectomy affected the attractant properties of odours emitted by long photoperiod, but not short photoperiod, males. Long photoperiod females preferred odours of intact rather than those of gonadectomized long photoperiod males, and odours of gonadectomized long photoperiod males rather than those of intact short photoperiod males. Females did not show a preference between the odours of intact and castrated short photoperiod males. Gonadal hormone replacement in males affected female responses to the odours emitted by long photoperiod, but not short photoperiod, gonadectomized males. Long photoperiod females did not display a preference between odours of intact long photoperiod males and gonadectomized long photoperiod males treated with testosterone or oestradiol. We conclude that in spring and summer gonadal hormones increase attractiveness of male odours; this effect may require aromatization of testosterone to oestradiol. Substrates that control attractiveness of odour cues in male voles appear to be unresponsive to androgens during the nonbreeding season.

Keywords: odour preferences; photoperiod; seasonality; vole; steroids