breeding cycle

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A cycle of sexual and parental behaviour and physiology. Among animals living at middle and high latitudes, the breeding cycle is usually seasonal.

The reproductive physiology of seasonal breeders is geared to the annual cycle of environmental change in such a way that peak abundance of food, or adverse environmental conditions, are anticipated. First, changes in ambient temperature, day length, or other environmental cues provide stimuli that induce physiological change at a particular time of year. Secondly, the physiological changes are programmed on a seasonal basis by means of an endogenous circannual rhythm.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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