Comparisons between 'wild'and 'game farm' mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were made to assess the differences in the temporal changes of plasma hormones. Seasonal variation in the levels of immunoreactive luteinizing hormone (LH), testosterone, 5 -dihydrotestosterone (DHT), estrone, estradiol-17i?? and progesterone were measured in male and female mallards. In all birds there was a vernal increase in the concentrations of LH and testosterone in plasma which were correlated with the development of the testes and ovaries prior to and during the nesting season. The concentrations of estrogens in the plasma of the females were, in general, slightly higher during the nesting season but were much lower than the levels of testosterone. The highest levels of LH and testosterone in the females coincided precisely with the period of egg laying which occurred approximately one month earlier in game farm females than in wild females. The concentrations of LH and testosterone in the plasma of females decreased rapidly during incubation. In wild males, the decline in levels of these hormones temporally coincided with that of females. In contrast, plasma levels of LH and testosterone of males of the game farm stock remained elevated after the beginning of incubation in females to which they were paired. On the basis of these results and an examination of the literature, it appears that domestication results in: 1) increased reproductive potential through earlier initiation of nesting and by delay of the termination of reproduction until later in the summer; and 2) a decrease in the synchronization of the hormonal events supporting reproduction between the male and female of a pair. Testicular weights and plasma levels of testosterone become higher in game farm and domestic males than in the wild stock but levels of LH are similar.
Additional publication details
Annual cycle of plasma luteinizing hormone and sex hormones in male and female mallards (Anas platyrhynchos)