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Fat body and liver cycles in the large girdled lizard

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

Cordylus giganteus is a large viviparous lizard endemic to the Highveld grasslands of South Africa. Seasonal morphometric changes in fat body mass, liver mass and a carcass condition index in male, female and juvenile C. giganteus are described for a 15 month period. In the adult male and juvenile classes, abdominal fat bodies increase during late summer and autumn followed by a dramatic depletion during winter hibernation. Although that fat body cycles of adult reproducing females are similar to those of males, the magnitude of lipid storage in these females was considerably greater. Adult females showing early vitellogenic activity and significantly larger fat bodies than non-reproductive females. Seasonal liver mass changes paralleled the fat body cycles in all classes. Fat body stores appear to be used by all classes for winter and early spring nutrition. Energy needs during winter vitellogenesis in females and mating activity during spring in males may also benefit from fat body and liver energy stores. The hypothesis that biennial reproduction in females is determined by the magnitude of energy reserves at the onset of vitellogenesis in autumn is upheld.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa, National Museum, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa, Department of Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa


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