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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Annual cycle of plasma testosterone in male copperheads, Agkistrodon contortrix (Serpentes, Viperidae): relationship to timing of spermatogenesis, mating, and agonistic behavior.

Reproductive cycles of the majority of squamate reptiles remain undescribed. Few studies are available on seasonal patterns of circulating steroid hormones in snakes. The goal of this study was to document the annual cycle of plasma testosterone (T) in male copperheads Agkistrodon contortrix, a North American pitviper (Serpentes, Viperidae). Two experimental conditions were used in this laboratory study. One condition (repeat-test group) consisted of 10 adult males that were sampled once each month for 11 months. The other condition (single-test groups) consisted of 10 groups each with 5 males (N = 50), and each male was tested a single time. The single-test condition was used to evaluate whether or not repeated handling and sampling affected T levels. The study was conducted from February-December, 1992. A well-defined seasonal pattern of plasma T levels was detected; patterns were similar under both experimental conditions with the exception that the repeat-test group had slightly lower levels. Levels of T were lowest (baseline) in April-May, increased in early summer (June), and were highest in late summer (August). Thereafter, T levels declined up to the time of hibernation (early November) and changed little during hibernation (November-January). Upon emergence from hibernation in late winter (February), T levels increased sharply from February to March and then decreased from March to April. The results are discussed in the context of timing of spermatogenesis, mating, and male agonistic behavior.[1]


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