The mode of ovulation in the Namaqua rock mouse, Micaelamys namaquensis

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The pattern of ovulation in mammals is generally considered to be either spontaneous or induced by copulation, with environmental and social factors playing a key role in determining the specific mode of ovulation that would maximize the reproductive potential of the species. This study aims to determine whether the Namaqua rock mouse (Micaelamys namaquensis (A. Smith, 1834)) is a spontaneous or induced ovulator. Females were divided into three treatments differing in the degree of contact with a male. Namely, seven control females had no contact with a male; a further seven separated females had only chemical, auditory, and visual contact with a male; whereas six females had intermittent periods of full contact with a vasectomized male. Ovarian size, follicular development, and plasma progesterone concentrations were compared between the three treatments. Penile morphology was also investigated. Corpora lutea were found in all three treatments and the penis was smooth without any ridges or spikes, indicating that M. namaquensis is a spontaneous ovulator. Interestingly, however, the presence of a male (physical as well as just visual and olfactory) positively affected ovarian size, ovulation, and plasma progesterone concentrations. This signifies that although M. namaquensis ovulates spontaneously, male contact significantly influences ovulation rate and ultimately reproductive success.
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