TitleEnvironmental and seasonal adaptations of the adrenocortical and gonadal responses to capture stress in two populations of the male garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsMoore, IT, Greene, MJ, Mason, RT
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Stress and reproduction are generally thought to work in opposition to one another. This is often manifested as reciprocal relationships between glucocorticoid stress hormones and sex steroid hormones. However, seasonal differences in how animals respond to stressors have been described in extreme environments. We tested the hypothesis that garter snakes, Thamnophis sirtalis, with limited reproductive opportunities will suppress their hormonal stress response during the breeding season relative to conspecifics with an extended breeding season. The red-sided garter snake, T.s. parietalis, of Manitoba, Canada, has a brief breeding season during which males displayed no change in either plasma levels of testosterone or corticosterone, which were both elevated above basal levels, in response to capture stress. During the summer, capture stress resulted in increased plasma corticosterone and decreased testosterone. During the fall, when mating can also occur, males exhibited a significant decrease in testosterone but no increase in corticosterone in response to capture stress. The red-spotted garter snake, T.s. concinnus, of western Oregon, has an extended breeding season during which males displayed a stress response of increased plasma corticosterone and decreased testosterone levels. The corticosterone response to capture stress was similar during the spring, summer, and fall. In contrast, the testosterone response was suppressed during the summer and fall when gametogenesis was occurring. These data suggest that male garter snakes, in both populations, seasonally adapt their stress response but for different reasons and by potentially different mechanisms. J. Exp. Zool. 289:99-108, 2001. (C) 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000166204400003