Prolactin replacement fails to inhibit reactivation of gonadotropin secretion in rams treated with melatonin under long days.
This study tested the hypothesis that prolactin (PRL) inhibits gonadotropin secretion in rams maintained under long days and that treatment with melatonin (s.c. continuous-release implant; MEL-IMP) reactivates the reproductive axis by suppressing PRL secretion. Adult Soay rams were maintained under long days (16L:8D) and received 1) no further treatment (control, C); 2) MEL-IMP for 16 wk and injections of saline/vehicle for the first 8 wk (M); 3) MEL-IMP for 16 wk and exogenous PRL (s.c. 5 mg ovine PRL 3x daily) for the first 8 wk (M+P). The treatment with melatonin induced a rapid increase in the blood concentrations of FSH and testosterone, rapid growth of the testes, an increase in the frequency of LH pulses, and a decrease in the LH response to N-methyl-D,L-aspartic acid. The concomitant treatment with exogenous PRL had no effect on these reproductive responses but caused a significant delay in the timing of the sexual skin color and growth of the winter pelage. These results do not support the hypothesis and suggest that PRL at physiological long-day concentrations, while being totally ineffective as an inhibitor of gonadotropin secretion, acts in the peripheral tissues and skin to maintain summer characteristics. (+info)
Costs and the diversification of exaggerated animal structures.
Sexual selection can favor production of extravagant ornaments and weapons in the contest for access to the opposite sex. Existing explanations for the diversity of sexually selected structures focus on reproductive benefits conferred by particular ornament or weapon morphologies. Here, I show that costs of weapon production also may drive patterns of weapon evolution. In beetles, production of horns reduces the size of neighboring morphological structures (antennae, eyes, or wings, depending on the location of the horns), and these tradeoffs reveal unexpected functional associations between ecology and horn morphology. This study illustrates a critical but overlooked role of costs in sexual selection and has implications for understanding the evolution of animal morphology. (+info)
Overt and covert competition in a promiscuous mammal: the importance of weaponry and testes size to male reproductive success.
Male contests for access to receptive females are thought to have selected for the larger male body size and conspicuous weaponry frequently observed in mammalian species. However, when females copulate with multiple males within an oestrus, male reproductive success is a function of both pre- and postcopulatory strategies. The relative importance of these overt and covert forms of sexual competition has rarely been assessed in wild populations. The Soay sheep mating system is characterized by male contests for mating opportunities and high female promiscuity. We find that greater horn length, body size and good condition each independently influence a male's ability to monopolize receptive females. For males with large horns at least, this behavioural success translates into greater siring success. Consistent with sperm-competition theory, we also find that larger testes are independently associated with both higher copulation rates and increased siring success. This advantage of larger testes emerges, and strengthens, as the number of oestrous females increases, as dominant males can no longer control access to them all. Our results thus provide direct quantitative evidence that male reproductive success in wild populations of mammals is dependent upon the relative magnitude of both overt contest competition and covert sperm competition. (+info)
The utility of ketoprofen for alleviating pain following dehorning in young dairy calves.
To determine if ketoprofen, in addition to local anaesthesia, reduces pain following dehorning, we experimentally dehorned dairy calves, less than 2 weeks of age, with (20 calves) or without (20 calves) intramuscular injections of ketoprofen. All calves received a local anesthetic (lidocaine) prior to dehorning and were dehorned with heat cauterization. Cortisol concentration was measured via jugular blood samples taken immediately before dehorning and at 3 and 6 hours following dehorning. Calf behavior was recorded between 0 and 2, 3 and 5, and 6 and 8 hours following dehorning. There was no significant (P > 0.10) effect on creep feed consumption, cortisol concentration, or any of the behavioral measures during the time periods studied. However, the difference in cortisol concentrations from the time of dehorning until 3 hours later was significantly lower (P < 0.05) in the ketoprofen-treated group. These results suggest that ketoprofen, in addition to local anesthesia, may alleviate short-term pain following dehorning with a butane dehorning device in dairy calves less than 2 weeks of age. (+info)
The evolution of fossoriality and the adaptive role of horns in the Mylagaulidae (Mammalia: Rodentia).
Ceratogaulus, a member of the extinct fossorial rodent clade Mylagaulidae, is the only known rodent with horns and the smallest known horned mammal. The function of the large, dorsally projecting nasal horns on this burrowing animal has been the subject of wide speculation among palaeontologists; suggested uses range from sexual combat to burrowing. Mammals have evolved adaptations for digging repeatedly; horns and other cranial appendages have also evolved numerous times. These two adaptations co-occur in mammals extremely rarely: only two fossil genera (Ceratogaulus and the xenarthran Peltephilus) and no extant mammals are both horned and fossorial. Tracing the evolution of fossoriality in aplodontoid rodents (the larger clade to which Ceratogaulus belongs) reveals that Ceratogaulus descended from ancestors who dug by head-lifting. Whereas this suggests an obvious explanation for the horns of this rodent, evidence from functional morphology, anatomy, phylogeny and geologic context indicates that the horns in Ceratogaulus were used for defence, rather than digging, and evolved to offset increased predation costs associated with spending more time foraging above ground as body size increased. (+info)
Integrating micro- and macroevolution of development through the study of horned beetles.
A major challenge in evolutionary developmental biology is to understand how developmental evolution on the level of populations and closely related species relates to macroevolutionary transitions and the origin of evolutionary novelty. Here, I review the genetic, developmental, endocrine, and ecological basis of beetle horns, a morphological novelty that exhibits remarkable diversity both below and above the species level. Integrating from a variety of approaches three major insights emerge: the origin of beetle horns relied at least in part on the redeployment of already existing genetic, developmental and endocrine mechanisms. At the same time little to no phylogenetic distance appeared to have been necessary for the evolution of diverse modifier mechanisms that permit substantial modulation of trait expression at different time points during development in different species, sexes, alternative male morphs or even different tissue regions of the same individual. Lastly, at least a subset of these modifier mechanisms can evolve rapidly in geographically isolated populations, apparently driven by relatively simple, and probably ubiquitous, changes in ecological conditions. I discuss the implications of these results for our understanding of the genesis of morphological novelty and diversity. (+info)
Insulin signaling and limb-patterning: candidate pathways for the origin and evolutionary diversification of beetle 'horns'.
Beetle 'horns' are rigid outgrowths of the insect cuticle used as weapons in contests for access to mates. Relative to their body size, beetle horns can be enormous. They protrude from any of five different regions of the head or thorax; they are curved, straight, branched or bladed; and their development is often coupled with the nutrient environment (male dimorphism) or with sex (sexual dimorphism). Here, we show that this extraordinary diversity of horns can be distilled down to four trajectories of morphological change--horn location, shape, allometry and dimorphism--and we illustrate how the developmental mechanisms regulating horn growth could generate each of these types of horn evolution. Specifically, we review two developmental pathways known to regulate growth of morphological structures in Drosophila and other insects: a limb-patterning pathway that specifies the location and shape of a structure, and the insulin pathway, which modulates trait growth in response to larval nutrition. We summarize preliminary evidence indicating that these pathways are associated with the development of beetle horns, and we show how subtle changes in the relative activities of these two pathways would be sufficient to generate most of the extant diversity of horn forms. Our objective is to intuitively connect genotype with phenotype, and to advocate an informed 'candidate gene' approach to studies of the developmental basis of evolution. We end by using this insight from development to offer a solution to the long-standing mystery of the scarabs: the observation by Darwin, Lameere, Arrow and others that this one family of beetles appeared to have a 'special tendency' towards the evolution of horns. (+info)
Evolutionary trade-off between weapons and testes.
It has long been recognized that male mating competition is responsible for the evolution of weaponry for mate acquisition. However, when females mate with more than one male, competition between males can continue after mating in the form of sperm competition. Theory predicts that males should increase their investment in sperm production as sperm competition is increased, but it assumes that males face a trade-off between sperm production and other life-history traits such as mate acquisition. Here, we use a genus of horned beetle, Onthophagus, to examine the trade-off between investment in testes required for fertilizations and investment in weapons used to obtain matings. In a within-species study, we prevented males from developing horns and found that these males grew larger and invested relatively more in testes growth than did males allowed to grow horns. Among species, there was no general relationship between the relative sizes of horns and testes. However, the allometric slope of horn size on body size was negatively associated with the allometric slope of testes size on body size. We suggest that this reflects meaningful evolutionary changes in the developmental mechanisms regulating trait growth, specifically in the degree of nutrition-dependent phenotypic plasticity versus canalization of traits. Finally, we show how this resource allocation trade-off has influenced the evolutionary diversification of weapons, revealing a rich interplay between developmental trade-offs and both pre- and postmating mechanisms of sexual competition. (+info)