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Conservation programs for threatened high- elevation amphibian species rely on hibernation to trigger appropriate male reproductive behaviours and gametogenesis. Although common practice and anecdotal observations have supported the practice of hibernation, there is limited empirical evidence documenting the effects on reproduction in these species. In this study, the effect of hibernation on sperm quantity and quality was evaluated for the alpine species Anaxyrus boreas boreas . Hibernated (n =19) and non-hibernated (n =21) male toads were administered 10IUg-1 body weight (BW) human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and spermic urine was collected over 24h. Hibernation had no effect on the number of males undergoing spermatogenesis, but hibernated males produced sperm in higher concentrations. Sperm quality was measured in terms of total motility, forward progressive motility and quality of forward progression. Although there was no difference in the total sperm motility of samples from hibernated and non-hibernated toads, the percentage of sperm exhibiting forward progressive motility and the quality of forward progression was significantly greater from hibernated toads. These results support our hypothesis that hibernation impacts both sperm quantity and quality in male boreal toads. This study will better inform captive breeding management decisions for threatened alpine species, in imminent danger of extinction.


Andrew J Kouba, Cecilia J Langhorne, Scott T Willard, Theodore Smith, Carrie K Kouba. Spermiation response to exogenous hormone therapy in hibernated and non-hibernated boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas). Reproduction, fertility, and development. 2022 Mar;34(5):453-460

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PMID: 34717792

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