The Natal mole-rat is a social subterranean rodent that exhibits seasonal reproduction. Nonreproductive females disperse from the natal colony and pair up with unrelated males to establish new colonies. This study set out to determine whether dispersing female Natal mole-rats are induced or spontaneous ovulators. Twelve nonreproductive females removed from natal colonies during breeding season were housed individually. Urine was collected for a period of 5 weeks. Females were subjected to 1 of 3 trials: housed separately without a male, allowed only chemical contact but not physical contact with unvasectomized males, and placed in direct contact with 4 vasectomized males. Urine was collected for a further 5 weeks, and urinary progesterone profiles established. Females housed in direct contact with males exhibited heightened progesterone concentrations and corpora lutea in the ovaries. The act of coitus appears necessary for ovulation to occur in the females despite the fact that males were not capable of fertilization.
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