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Cool sex? Hibernation and reproduction overlap in the Echidna

Citation

Morrow, GE and Nicol, SC, Cool sex? Hibernation and reproduction overlap in the Echidna, PLoS One, 4, (6) pp. e6070. ISSN 1932-6203 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006070

Abstract

During hibernation there is a slowing of all metabolic processes, and thus it is normally considered to be incompatible with reproduction. In Tasmania the egg-laying mammal, the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) hibernates for several months before mating in mid-winter, and in previous studies we observed males with females that were still hibernating. We monitored the reproductive activity of radio-tracked echidnas by swabbing the reproductive tract for sperm while external temperature loggers provided information on the timing of hibernation. Additional information was provided by camera traps and ultrasound imaging. More than a third of the females found in mating groups were torpid, and the majority of these had mated. Some females re-entered deep torpor for extended periods after mating. Ultrasound examination showed a developing egg in the uterus of a female that had repeatedly re-entered torpor. The presence of fresh sperm in cloacal swabs taken from this female on three occasions after her presumed date of fertilization indicated she mated several times after being fertilized. The mating of males with torpid females is the result of extreme competition between promiscuous males, while re-entry into hibernation by pregnant females could improve the possibility of mating with a better quality male. © 2009 Morrow, Nicol.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary Biology
Research Field:Animal Systematics and Taxonomy
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Objective Field:Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Author:Morrow, GE (Ms Gemma Morrow)
Author:Nicol, SC (Associate Professor Stewart Nicol)
ID Code:58202
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:31
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2009-09-15
Last Modified:2011-11-24
Downloads:0

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