Photic Entrainment Of Circannual Rhythms In Goldenmantled Ground Squirrels: Role Of The Pineal Gland

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Journal Of Biological Rhythms


Entrainment of circannual rhythms of body mass and reproduction was monitored for 3 years in female golden-mantled ground squirrels maintained in a simulated natural photoperiod. Both pinealectomized and pineal-intact squirrels generated circannual rhythms of body mass and estrus, but only the intact animals entrained these rhythms to a period of 365 days. In the second and third years after treatment, the period of the body mass rhythm was significantly shorter than 365 days for pinealectomized squirrels, and variance in tau among these animals was significantly greater than for intact squirrels. A similar pattern was evident in the rhythm of reproduction, which was phase-disrupted in pinealectomized squirrels but entrained in intacts. Seasonal changes in duration of nocturnal melatonin secretion by the pineal appear to be necessary to produce phase-delays required to entrain the circannual clock to a period of 12 months.

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