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    Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) have a distinct life history pattern comprising annual terrestrial breeding and oceanic migration, and the physiological changes associated with these patterns are of particular interest for understanding their environmental adaptations. However, owing to their oceanic distribution, limited information is available on the reproductive physiology of wild individuals during the immature stage and the winter migration period. This study aimed to determine the relationships among the seasonal hormone profiles, body growth, age, and pregnancy using monthly serum samples collected over 3-5 years from two male and two female captive individuals during pubescence and sexual maturation. Small increases in the serum testosterone signaled puberty in males aged 3 and 4 years. Thereafter, males showed considerable increases in testosterone during breeding seasons, indicating sexual maturity. Immature female serum progesterone was maintained at low levels, but after pubescence, females showed an increase in serum progesterone in August, the month next to the peak of delivery, followed by a decrease. In non-pregnant females, progesterone did not increase significantly until the next breeding season, but in pregnant females, they increased again from February to March and then gradually decreased. Immature males increased body mass constantly and reached puberty when their body mass exceeded 20 kg, and they showed seasonal weight fluctuations after puberty. These results provide fundamental information for determining sexual maturity and pregnancy in this species based on sex steroid hormones and body mass measurements.


    Kaoru Kohyama, Yasuo Inoshima, Masashi Kiyota. Fluctuations in serum steroid hormone concentrations and body mass during growth and sexual maturation in captive northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus). The Journal of veterinary medical science. 2022 Jan 24;84(1):171-180

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    PMID: 34866092

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