Follicular development, ovulation, fertilization and fetal development in tenrecs (Tenrec ecaudatus)

in Reproduction

Summary. Reproduction in female tenrecs was studied on Praslin Island (4°20′S, 55°45′E) in the Seychelles from November 1977 to September 1980. Dissection and histological examination of reproductive tracts revealed that each ovary is encapsulated in a bursa. Polyovular follicles were abundant and contained up to 5 oocytes. The occurrence of more implanted fetuses than corpora lutea (CL) indicated successful polyovuly in 25% of pregnancies. No antrum was observed during follicular growth at oestrus, and follicles were relatively small at maturation, reaching a maximum diameter of 570μm. Ovulation involves a gentle extrusion of the granulosa and ovum into the periovarian space. Spermatozoa were abundant in the female reproductive tract including the periovarian space at oestrus. Spermatozoa penetrated the loosely-packed theca of mature follicles and were present in CL, indicating that intrafollicular fertilization may occur. The relatively small CL formed by eversion, reaching a maximum size after implantation. Fusion of up to four CL occurred in the ovaries of 41% of pregnant females. Polyovulation in the tenrec was confirmed by the occurrence of 10·4 ± 0·5 (mean ± s.e.m.) CL and 9·7 ± 0·5 (mean ± s.e.m.) implantations. Resorption occurred in 74% of 19 dissectable pregnancies, occurring in both uterine horns in 26% of pregnancies. Coefficients of variation in weights of fetuses in each litter were 10·0–26·8%, with the largest value corresponding to 273% variation in fetus weights. Litter size in the Seychelles tenrecs was smaller than in the same species in Madagascar (17·1 ± 1·9 implantations) where the tenrec is native.

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