Ejaculate characteristics over seasons in five species of lancehead pitvipers (Bothrops spp ) kept in captivity

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Due to their major medical importance in Latin America, lancehead pitvipers are frequently kept and bred in captivity for venom extraction to the production of antivenom serums. Nevertheless, despite the great contribution given to captive breeding, much of the knowledge of Bothrops' reproductive biology derived from sporadic and insufficient data provided by zoological collections. Thus, we aimed to investigate seasonal changes in gonadosomatic index (GSI) and seminal parameters (e.g., volume, concentration, motility, viability, and acrosome integrity) of five species of lancehead pitvipers from different biomes and phylogenetic groups, maintained in the indoors serpentarium at Butantan Institute (Brazil). Patterns of variation in GSI and semen parameters differed from one species to another, suggesting that captive populations should perhaps be managed distinctly to maximize reproductive success. Furthermore, in none of the studied species did changes in GSI occur concomitantly with seminal variations. GSI remained unaltered year-round for Jararaca (Bothrops jararaca) and Brazilian lancehead (Bothrops moojeni), whereas it peaked in the autumn for Common lancehead (Bothrops atrox), Jararacussu (Bothrops jararacussu), and Whitetail lancehead (Bothrops leucurus). But surprisingly, the scenario was inverted when we estimated the total number of motile spermatozoa per season, as Jararaca and Brazilian lancehead displayed seasonal differences and the other species did not vary throughout the year. Potential ecological and evolutionary factors underlying these differences were also discussed in the present article. Together, these findings can help to better define breeding management strategies for each species in captivity, in addition to optimizing the future use of artificial insemination and semen cryopreservation.
SE.M.V, Grego KF, Blank MH., Novaes GA., Rodrigues FDS, Silveira GPM, et al. Ejaculate characteristics over seasons in five species of lancehead pitvipers (Bothrops spp ) kept in captivity. Zoo Biology. 2022 Jun; in press. doi:10.1002/zoo.21713.
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