Plasma progesterone concentrations in female little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) during hibernation
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Monthly collections of hibernating little brown bats contained (1) nulliparous females with small uteri and no antral follicles, (2) nulliparous females with swollen uteri and mature follicles, and (3) parous females, which, despite obvious differences in reproductive status, had equivalent plasma progesterone values. During the principal study season, mean monthly progesterone concentrations (measured by radioimmunoassay) showed recurrent increases with an apparent periodicity of about 60 days, but limited data obtained in the subsequent season did not. However, comparison of activity patterns in the two seasons with monthly progesterone concentrations suggests that ovarian activity during hibernation is affected by variations in metabolic level. We saw no evidence that nulliparous bats with small uteri developed antral follicles during hibernation. Despite their apparent immaturity, however, they had cornified vaginae and most were demonstrably inseminated. These indications of oestrus and the lack of differences between their plasma progesterone concentrations and those of patently mature females suggest that they were physiologically post-pubertal but failed to complete folliculogenesis before entering hibernation.
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