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Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 127–139 | Cite as

Do ovarian scars persist with age in all Cetaceans: new insight from the short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis Linnaeus, 1758)

  • Willy Dabin
  • François Cossais
  • Graham J. Pierce
  • Vincent Ridoux
Original Paper

Abstract

The determination of reproductive status and the reconstruction of individual reproductive histories are central to many ecological studies. In cetaceans, it has been assumed that ovarian scars accumulate with age and provide a lifetime record of female reproductive history. If ovarian scars persist, the number of scars should increase with age after puberty. To test this, we examined age, reproductive status and ovarian scars from 187 short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from the eastern North Atlantic. The number of Corpus Albicans (CA) present in ovaries did not increase with age after age at sexual maturity (ASM), suggesting that ovarian scars are not persistent and that their number at any one time would be a function of rates of ovulation and healing, the latter being defined here as the resorption or disintegration of CA tissue. Since female mammals stop ovulating when pregnant, inferences about healing rates could be made by using pregnant females. Pregnant females had ca. 40% fewer scars than non-pregnant females. This suggests that most CAs would heal quickly, with a half-life of less than 1 year, although larger scars may persist longer. Therefore, counting CAs would have limited potential for reconstructing individual reproductive lifetime histories in the common dolphin. A reassessment of the use of ovarian scars to reconstruct individual life reproductive histories in cetaceans is suggested.

Keywords

Corpus Luteum Pregnant Female Ovulation Rate Harbour Porpoise Common Dolphin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are mostly grateful to CRMM interns and members of staff, Cécile Delcroix, Ghislain Doremus, Jérôme Spitz, Olivier Van Canneyt and the field correspondents of the French stranding scheme for their assistance in collecting the material. Scientists from Océanopolis as well as Yannick Cherel, Gérard Gautier, and officers of Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage contributed to the examinations and necropsies performed on the 53 dolphins collected during the mass stranding of February 2002. We wish also to warmly thank Fabien Desmaret and Peter Lamarre for their help in laboratory analyses and all BIOCET partners for their useful comments and fruitful discussions; in particular, Emer Rogan for her supervising age determination. This research was funded by Ministère de l’Ecologie, du Développement et de l’Aménagement Durables (MEDAD), and the EU projects BIOCET (EVK3-2000-0027) and NECESSITY.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Willy Dabin
    • 1
  • François Cossais
    • 1
  • Graham J. Pierce
    • 2
    • 3
  • Vincent Ridoux
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche sur les Mammifères MarinsUniversité de La RochelleLa RochelleFrance
  2. 2.Centro Oceanográfico de VigoInstituto Español de OceanografíaVigoSpain
  3. 3.Oceanlab, University of AberdeenNewburghUK
  4. 4.LIttoral ENvironnement et SociétésUMR 6250, CNRS-Université de La RochelleLa RochelleFrance

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