Breeding in prairie voles is mainly restricted to the autumn and winter of most years. The organization of estrus in female prairie voles is unusual because behavioral estrus is induced by chemosensory stimuli from the mine of adult conspecific males. Isolated females exhibit undetectable levels of estradiol and never display estrous behavior, yet exposure to male urine causes a cascade of endocrine changes that evoke estrogen secretion from the ovaries and estrous behavior within 24 hr. In the prairie vole, the extreme dependence of estrus on chemosensory stimuli raises the possibility that their ovaries may be less prominent in the regulation of gonadotropin secretion than in species with more endogenously organized estrous cycles. The present study examined the contribution of the ovaries in luteinizing hormone (LH) regulation in prairie voles. Females were maintained for 9 weeks in either long (LD 16:8) or short (LD 8:16) photoperiodic conditions, a blood sample was obtained and then animals were either ovariectomized or received a sham procedure. Another blood sample was obtained a week later and assayed for serum LH. Blood serum LH levels were significantly reduced in short-day voles, compared to long day animals. After ovariectomy both long-day and short-day voles exhibited equivalent elevations in LH levels. This study provides evidence that photoperiod is measured in female voles and the ovaries appear to produce sufficient steroids to suppress LH release.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology