Relationships of basal metabolic rate, relative testis size and cycle length of spermatogenesis in shrews (Mammalia, Soricidae)

Reprod Fertil Dev. 2008;20(3):431-9. doi: 10.1071/rd07207.


The aim of the present study was to determinate the cycle length of spermatogenesis in three species of shrew, Suncus murinus, Sorex coronatus and Sorex minutus, and to assess the relative influence of variation in basal metabolic rate (BMR) and mating system (level of sperm competition) on the observed rate of spermatogenesis, including data of shrew species studied before (Sorex araneus, Crocidura russula and Neomys fodiens). The dynamics of sperm production were determined by tracing 5-bromodeoxyuridine in the DNA of germ cells. As a continuous scaling of mating systems is not evident, the level of sperm competition was evaluated by the significantly correlated relative testis size (RTS). The cycle durations estimated by linear regression were 14.3 days (RTS 0.3%) in Suncus murinus, 9.0 days (RTS 0.5%) in Sorex coronatus and 8.5 days (RTS 2.8%) in Sorex minutus. In regression and multiple regression analyses including all six studied species of shrew, cycle length was significantly correlated with BMR (r2=0.73) and RTS (r2=0.77). Sperm competition as an ultimate factor obviously leads to a reduction in the time of spermatogenesis in order to increase sperm production. BMR may act in the same way, independently or as a proximate factor, revealed by the covariation, but other factors (related to testes size and thus to mating system) may also be involved.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism*
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Shrews / physiology*
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Testis / anatomy & histology*