The possible role of increased dietary salinity as a proximate regulator of reproduction in xeric population of golden spiny mice (Acomys russatus) and mesic population of common spiny mice (A. cahirinus) was tested. In the wild, as the dry season progresses, evaporative water loss in the vegetation increases. This leads to increase in particle concentration of plant tissues. Thus, species consuming a plant diet are exposed to increased dietary salinity. Both male and female individuals of A. russatus were subjected to gradually increasing dietary salinity (0.9%, 2.5%, 3.5%, and 5%) while those of A. cahirinus only up to 3.5% for a total period of 8 and 6 weeks, respectively. Urine osmolarity showed a significant increase under 3.5% and 5% salinity in A. russatus and 2.5% and 3.5% in A. cahirinus. Testis mass and spermatogenesis were significantly reduced while uterine mass and vaginal estrus cycles were not affected in A. russatus. None of the parameters was significantly affected in A. cahirinus. Increase in salinity also significantly reduced body mass in A. russatus but not in A. cahirinus. Mass-specific daily digestible energy intake was not significantly affected by increased salinity in both species. Recovery individuals regained body mass quickly and surpassed initial values after four weeks. However, testis mass and spermatogenesis did not show recovery. The results suggest that increase in dietary salinity could be used as a proximate signal to regulate reproduction in A. russatus by halting it in males, as the dry season progresses while such role in the mesic population of A. cahirinus is unlikely.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The study was supported by an ISF grant from the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities to AH and FF. We are also grateful to the anonymous referees for their constructive suggestions and remarks.
- Body mass
- Energy intake
- Spiny mouse
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience