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Do conspecific cues affect follicular development in the female leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius)?

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Sexually reproducing organisms must process and respond to internal and external stimuli to successfully synchronize physiological and behavioural processes involved in reproduction. One such cue is an individual's social environment. Interactions with conspecifics affect a female's reproductive activity by inducing, suppressing, and/or accelerating reproductive processes. For example, many studies support the theory that the presence of a same-sex conspecific may suppress an animal's reproductive physiology, whereas an opposite-sex conspecific may stimulate an animal's reproductive physiology. The present study determined whether exposure to a conspecific male or female affects the onset of follicular development in sexually-experienced female leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius). The data show that follicular growth was not affected by whether female geckos were housed next to a male conspecific, a female conspecific, or isolated from conspecifics. In addition, the number of days until the initiation of follicular development of female geckos was not affected by whether the females were housed in the presence of a conspecific or in isolation. The results are discussed within the theoretical framework of the effects of social cues on the reproductive physiology of females and the limited empirical data about such effects in squamate lizards.

Affiliations: 1: University of Nevada, Reno, Biology Department, Mailstop 314, Room 147, Fleischmann Agriculture Building, Reno, NV 89557, USA;, Email: lladage@unr.edu; 2: The University of Memphis, Department of Biology, Ellington Hall, 3700 Walker Avenue, Memphis, TN 38152, USA

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