The reproduction biology of four species of South African dolphins

Reddy, Kasturi (1996) The reproduction biology of four species of South African dolphins. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Seasonality of reproduction in common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), bottlenosed dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) and humpbacked dolphins (Sousa chinensis) was examined using standard light microscope techniques. In the males four stages of testicular development could be identified. Individuals less than 2.26m in length and 105kg in mass had testes that contained sma1l seminiferous tubules (0.048mm ± O.Olmm in diameter) and were .classified either as juveniles (gonocytes present) or inactive (no gonocytes). Adults whose testes contained spermatozoa were said to be in late spermatogenesis while those whose testes contained no spermatids or spermatozoa were referred to as being in early spermatogenesis. In the males of D. delphis, T. aduncus and S. chinensis, late spermatogenesis occurred throughout the year and there was no significant difference in the monthly mean seminiferous tubule diameters (p > 0.05) within species. I conclude therefore that in these three species spermatogenesis is aseasonal. No conclusions about seasonality of spermatogenesis could be made for S. coeruleoalba owing to the small sample size. Large Graafian follicles occurred in the ovaries of all four species in most months of the year. However, the presence of Graafian follicles can not be taken as an indication of timing of reproduction since they may be remnants of follicles that have not yet degenerated. In D. delphis, T. aduncus and S. coeruleoalba luteal bodies (corpora albicans or corpora lutea) occurred in most months of the year. Active corpora lutea will be present in all months, in some members of the population, since gestation is approximately 12 months. The sperm structure of D. de/phis was examined by scanning electron microscopy. The sperm of D. delphis is essentially similar to that described for two other species of Cetacea (Physeter catodon and Tursiops aduncus), having an ellipsoidally shaped head and a short mid-piece with nine mitochondria. The sperm dimensions for D. delphis were head length, 4.4pm; head width, 2.0pm and mid-piece length, 2.4pm. An analysis of foetal age in D. delphis showed that the majority of the foetuses were conceived in January with birth occurring the following summer (December), suggesting that reproduction is seasonal. Neonates of T. aduncus were found throughout the year suggesting aseasonal reproduction. Foetal material was not available for S. coeruleoalba and S. chinensis. Seasonality of reproduction in the four species of dolphins studied has been discussed in relation to feeding, migration and worldwide distribution of the species

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Dolphin, South Africa, Bottlenose, Striped, Chinese white, Reproduction
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals
Q Science > QL Zoology > Embryology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
Supervisors:Bernard, Ric and Hodgson, Alan
ID Code:3213
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:27 Aug 2012 14:11
Last Modified:27 Aug 2012 14:11
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