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Induction of parturition in snow skinks: can low temperatures inhibit the actions of AVT?


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Girling, JE, Jones, SM and Swain, R 2002 , 'Induction of parturition in snow skinks: can low temperatures inhibit the actions of AVT?' , Journal of Experimental Zoology, vol. 293, no. 5 , pp. 525-531 , doi: 10.1002/jez.90007.

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The influence of environmental factors on the timing of parturition has not been
investigated in viviparous squamates. We investigated the interaction between temperature and
parturition in two viviparous skink species, the southern snow skink (Niveoscincus microlepidotus)
and the metallic skink (N. metallicus). In these species, the timing of parturition is separated from
the completion of embryonic development; the delay is attributed to their cool and variable habitats.
We examined whether the neurohypophyseal hormone arginine vasotocin (AVT) stimulated
parturition in southern snow skinks with late stage embryos in autumn (E6–7 months prior to
parturition) and in metallic skinks with late stage embryos in summer (E2–3 weeks prior to
parturition). The experiments were conducted at a range of environmentally relevant temperatures
(61C, 151C, 221C, and 281C). AVT induced parturition in both species at all temperatures; time until
birth, however, occurred more quickly at warmer temperatures (221C and 281C), whereas cooler
temperatures delayed parturition. We hypothesize that if cool temperatures are preventing
parturition, then temperature must act at some level within the brain to prevent or slow the
secretion of AVT. Future experiments will need to determine how temperature influences AVT
production. Further research is also required to determine how the timing of parturition is
influenced by interactions between temperature, photoperiod, and seasonal hormone patterns.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Girling, JE and Jones, SM and Swain, R
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Experimental Zoology
ISSN: 1548-8969
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/jez.90007
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