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Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and arginine vasotocin (AVT) are critical regulators of reproductive behaviors that exhibit tremendous plasticity, but co-variation in discrete GnRH and AVT neuron populations among sex and season are only partially described in fishes. We used immunocytochemistry to examine sexual and temporal variations in neuron number and size in three GnRH and AVT cell groups in relation to reproductive activities in the halfspotted goby (Asterropteryx semipunctata). GnRH-immunoreactive (-ir) somata occur in the terminal nerve, preoptic area, and midbrain tegmentum, and AVT-ir somata within parvocellular, magnocellular, and gigantocellular regions of the preoptic area. Sex differences were found among all GnRH and AVT cell groups, but were time-period dependent. Seasonal variations also occurred in all GnRH and AVT cell groups, with coincident elevations most prominent in females during the peak- and non-spawning periods. Sex and temporal variability in neuropeptide-containing neurons are correlated with the goby's seasonally-transient reproductive physiology, social interactions, territoriality and parental care. Morphological examination of GnRH and AVT neuron subgroups within a single time period provides detailed information on their activities among sexes, whereas seasonal comparisons provide a fine temporal sequence to interpret the proximate control of reproduction and the evolution of social behavior. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology

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