Induction of Parturition in Snow Skinks; Can Low Temperatures Inhibit the Actions of AVT?
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Girling, JE and Jones, SM and Swain, R, Induction of Parturition in Snow Skinks; Can Low Temperatures Inhibit the Actions of AVT?, Journal of Experimental Zoology, 293, (5) pp. 525-531. ISSN 0022-104X (2002) [Refereed Article]
The influence of environmental factors on the timing of parturition has not been investigated in viviparous squamates. We investigated the interaction between temperature and parturition in two viviparous skink species, the southern snow skink (Niveoscincus microlepidotus) and the metallic skink (N. metallicus). In these species, the timing of parturition is separated from the completion of embryonic development; the delay is attributed to their cool and variable habitats. We examined whether the neurohypophyseal hormone arginine vasotocin (AVT) stimulated parturition in southern snow skinks with late stage embryos in autumn (≈6-7 months prior to parturition) and in metallic skinks with late stage embryos in summer (≈2-3 weeks prior to parturition). The experiments were conducted at a range of environmentally relevant temperatures (6°C, 15°C, 22°C, and 28°C). AVT induced parturition in both species at all temperatures; time until birth, however, occurred more quickly at warmer temperatures (22°C and 28°C), whereas cooler temperatures delayed parturition. We hypothesize that if cool temperatures are preventing parturition, then temperature must act at some level within the brain to prevent or slow the secretion of AVT. Future experiments will need to determine how temperature influences AVT production. Further research is also required to determine how the timing of parturition is influenced by interactions between temperature, photoperiod, and seasonal hormone patterns. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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