Daylength influences pelage and plasma prolactin concentrations but not reproduction in the prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster

in Reproduction

Summary. Short daylengths did not affect testes weight or spermatogenic index in male voles or uterine weight in female voles. Short daylengths did stimulate the growth of a winter pelage in both sexes; short-day voles had longer underhairs and guard hairs and a thicker, more dense pelage than did long-day voles. Plasma prolactin concentrations were five times higher in long-day than in short-day females and 25% higher in long-day males than in short-day males. The effect of short daylength on pelage was prevented by pinealectomy. We suggest that the growth of a winter coat is an obligate adaptation for winter survival, stimulated by exposure to short daylengths, but that changes in breeding activity are facultative and dependent to a greater extent on other cues for seasonal synchronization.

Keywords: vole; photoperiodism; prolactin; pelage; reproduction

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