Reproductive and thyroid hormone profiles in captive Western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) after a period of brumation

Zoo Biol. 2008 Jan;27(1):36-48. doi: 10.1002/zoo.20159.


Seasonal fluctuation in serum concentrations of sex steroid (testosterone [T] and 17beta-estradiol [E(2)]) and thyroid (triiodothyronine [T(3)] and thyroxine [T(4)]) hormones was determined in captive Western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis). Samples were collected from male and female breeding pairs weekly for a 4-month period after their emergence from artificial brumation. Circulating levels of E(2) corresponded with the expected vitellogenic and ovulatory cycles in females, and surprisingly, E(2) in males followed a similar pattern, indicating a possible role in breeding behavior. Serum T was elevated in male lizards for the first 6 weeks after emergence from brumation, possibly related to an increase in the onset of active spermatogenesis. Thyroid hormones showed little cyclical activity throughout the breeding period, with the exception of small increases of T(3) at weeks 8 and 16, possibly implying an active role of this hormone with ovulation in females. Overall, these baseline hormone data are not only useful in developing this animal as a laboratory reptile model for assessment of endocrine-mediated toxicity, but also of value for understanding herpetological endocrinology and for application in the conservation of threatened species. Zoo Biol 27:36-48, 2008. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.