Summary. Plasma progesterone concentrations were recorded during one breeding season in 19 lesser mouse lemur females living in different social conditions. The oestrous cycle length and the progesterone profile mainly depended on the social environment of the female. For totally isolated females, the oestrous cycle lasted 38 ± 5·7 days and included a 25–30-days spontaneous luteal phase with a progesterone peak about 100 ng/ml between the 20th and 25th days after oestrus, and a prolonged preovulatory period of 10–15 days which could be considered equivalent to the follicular phase of a menstrual cycle. When females were able to communicate through olfactory, visual and auditory signals, the oestrous cycle was significantly lengthened (53·7 ± 5·9 days). When females had tactile contacts, the oestrous cycle was further lengthened (62·7 ± 0·8 days). This lengthening of the oestrous cycle was related to an extension of the luteal phase associated with a decrease in progesterone concentrations during this period. In females maintained with one male (paired) or with males and females (heterosexually grouped), large individual variations were shown in cycle lengths or in progesterone concentrations. In these females, cycle lengths and progesterone concentrations were inversely correlated to plasma cortisol concentrations.
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