Courtship and copulation in the adult male green anole: Effects of season, hormone and female contact on reproductive behavior and morphology

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Abstract

Interactions among reproductive season, testosterone (T) and female presence were investigated on the structure and function of forebrain and neuromuscular systems controlling courtship and copulation in the green anole lizard. Under breeding (BS) or non-breeding (NBS) environmental conditions, male green anoles were implanted with either T or blank capsules and exposed to one of three female stimulus conditions: physical, visual or no female contact. T and at least visual exposure to females increased courtship displays (extension of a throat fan, or dewlap), and these effects were greater during the BS than NBS. T also facilitated copulation, and did so to a greater extent in the BS. The hormone increased soma size in the preoptic area (POA) and amygdala (AMY), and in the AMY the effects were greater in the BS than NBS. Cross-sectional areas of copulatory organs and associated muscle fibers were enhanced by T, and more so in the BS than NBS. However, no effects on morphology of dewlap motoneurons or muscles or copulatory motoneurons were detected. Thus, (1) changes in behavior and neural and/or muscular morphology are not always parallel and (2) differences in responsiveness to T exist across seasons and among tissues.

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