Sperm output and body condition are maintained independently of hibernation in an endangered temperate amphibian

Reprod Fertil Dev. 2019 Apr;31(4):796-804. doi: 10.1071/RD18073.


Hibernation is an integral part of the life history of species living in seasonal environments. However, our knowledge about the link between hibernation and reproductive success in amphibians remains limited, which poses an obstacle for critical conservation efforts. To fill this gap, we quantified the effects of captive hibernation on sperm quality, sperm quantity and body condition in an endangered anuran, the Wyoming toad (Anaxyrus baxteri), and used naturally hibernated wild toads as a standard for comparison. We hypothesised that hibernation is essential for optimal sperm output but is detrimental to body condition. Sperm collection was performed using assisted reproductive technologies for both captive and wild toads. Contrary to our hypotheses, no differences were observed in sperm metrics (total number of cells, concentration, motility and viability) or in body condition across captive treatment groups (0, 30 or 60 days of hibernation). Moreover, no difference was found between sperm metrics of captive toads and wild toads. These unexpected findings suggest that hibernation may not be an essential process for spermiation in A. baxteri while using exogenous hormones, and illustrate the potential of temperate amphibians to adapt to varying environmental conditions during winter months.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Bufonidae / physiology*
  • Hibernation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Semen Analysis
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*