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Reproduction in the round-eared elephant shrew (Macroscelides proboscideus) in the southern Karoo, South Africa


, : Reproduction in the round-eared elephant shrew (Macroscelides proboscideus) in the southern Karoo, South Africa. Journal of Zoology (London) 240(2): 233-243

Reproduction in round-eared elephant shrews occurred throughout the year. Male round-eared elephant shrews were spermatogenically active, with spermatozoa stored in the cauda epididymes, throughout the year. Pregnant females occurred in all months except March and May and there was a decline in the occurrence of pregnancies during early winter (March-July). This tendency towards seasonality of pregnancies was mirrored by the appearance of juveniles, with 77% of all young animals caught between September and February. Bone calcium concentrations were significantly lower during the dry winter than during summer. From October onwards (the beginning of the wet season), bone calcium concentrations increased, reaching high levels in December which were maintained until April. This increase in bone calcium concentrations coincided with the rainy season and with an increase in the intake of herbage, and during this period 60% of all pregnancies occurred. We conclude that the ability of the round-eared elephant shrew to vary its diet may allow some individuals to breed throughout the year. The reduction in the occurrence of pregnancies in early winter probably ensures that few births occur when bone calcium concentrations are low.

US$19.90

DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1996.tb05282.x


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