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Annual dynamics of sperm production and storage in the Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, in the southeastern United States

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The Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, is an invasive species found in warmer regions throughout the world, including the southern United States. In Louisiana, H. turcicus appears to be free of competition and has been rapidly expanding its range in the past several decades. However, in Florida and Texas, H. turcicus is heavily out-competed by closely related competitors that do not occur in Louisiana, including H. frenatus, of which a substantial amount of reproductive morphology and ecology is known. Although the reproductive cycle of H. turcicus has been studied in Florida and Louisiana, little is known about the seasonal variation of their oviduct and if they are capable of storing sperm, which can have substantial implications for reproductive competition. We analysed sperm production, storage and seasonal variation in the testes and oviducts of H. turcicus using light and electron microscopy. Previous studies found that female H. frenatus store sperm in the uterine-infundibular region for up to 36 weeks, and that their oviducts are active year-round. In H. turcicus, we found that sperm are stored in the uterine-infundibular region of the oviduct, and sperm are stored from May through August. Hemidactylus turcicus has one breeding season per year, producing three to four clutches between May and August, but between September and February minimal activity occurs in the oviduct. Additionally, male H. turcicus are producing sperm throughout the entire reproductive season, but whether females utilize stored sperm to fertilize eggs or if they mate continually throughout the spring and summer is unknown.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, Louisiana 70402, USA; School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154, USA; 2: Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, Louisiana 70402, USA


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