Circadian Organization and Female Reproductive Cyclicity

  • Milton H. Stetson
Part of the Advances in experimental medicine and biology book series (AEMB, volume 108)


One of the most challenging problems facing reproductive physiologists is the determination of the mechanisms regulating cyclic reproductive events. This is made especially obvious when we consider the types and numbers of reproductive cycles demonstrable in a single species. For example, in reproductively mature hamsters ovulation occurs with unerring precision every four days. This four-day, or quadradian, estrous cycle is superimposed on an annual rhythm of reproductive readiness. Thus, in a hamster exposed to natural environmental photoperiod, reproduction is confined to the months of spring and summer during which approximately 10-12 ova are ovulated every four days. This cycle continues unless interrupted by pregnancy, pseudo-pregnancy or by the decreasing day-lengths of late summer and autumn. For the hamster, therefore, reproduction can be viewed as a series of cyclic events the periodicity of which varies from months to hours. Central to all of these must be one or more timers, or oscillators, whose function(s) it is to synchronize these cycles within each organism and among organisms of the population, guaranteeing for the population that reproductive efforts will be successful.


Circadian Rhythm Circadian Clock Estrous Cycle Period Length Golden Hamster 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milton H. Stetson
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiology Section School of Life and Health SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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