The effects of a reduction in ambient temperature (from 26 degrees C to 15 degrees C) and a 10% reduction in daily food consumption on reproductively active male and female four-striped field mice ( Rhabdomys pumilio) were investigated. In male R. pumilio, both reduced ambient temperature and a reduction in food quantity had an inhibitory effect on spermatogenesis and on size of the reproductive organs, and this was greatest when the two factors were combined and the effect of fat was removed. Female R. pumilio responded differently and reproduction was inhibited by a reduction in food quantity, irrespective of ambient temperature. The masses of the ovaries and uterus, the numbers of developing follicles and corpora lutea, and the development of the uterine wall were all reduced by food deprivation at 26 degrees C to levels similar to those that resulted from a reduction in ambient temperature to 15 degrees C with a reduction in food quantity. It is concluded that reproduction in R. pumilio from the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa is opportunistic, that reproduction will be inhibited by an energetic challenge and that there is sexual dimorphism in the response to ambient temperature and food supply.
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