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Annual testicular cycles in the lizards Lacerta sicula and L. muralis appear to be regulated by the interaction between seasonal changes in body temperature and an endogenous rhythmicity in thermal responsiveness. Photoperiodism does not appear to be an important factor; i.e. testicular activity does not appear to be regulated by daylength.

Following testicular regression in July, the lizards are refractory to sexual stimulation by high temperatures (i.e. normal preferred levels) for about five months. High temperatures accelerate gonadal regression and prevent recrudescence during late summer. Reduced temperatures stimulate testicular enlargement and spermatid formation during the autumn; this recrudescence can be blocked by treatment with testosterone. Very low temperatures suppress gonadal activity during mid-winter.

Maintenance of lizards at constant high temperatures (33°C) starting in July suppresses testicular recrudescence until December. Also, testicular collapse occurs in lizards transferred to high temperatures after recrudescence has started. The gonads are stimulated by exogenous gonadotropins at 33°C during the fall indicating that high temperatures reduce circulating levels of gonadotropins.

The refractoriness to high temperatures is “spontaneously” terminated during midwinter (December) under a wide range of photo-thermal conditions. Low temperatures may accelerate the termination of refractoriness. Thereafter, high temperatures stimulate, and are required for the final development of the testes and accessory sexual structures. Thus, the increase in body temperature following hibernation times the onset of breeding in the spring.

Temperature also has a marked influence on appetite and growth, independent of photo-period. Weight gains are greater at 33° than at 20°C. At 33° there is a tendency for abdominal fat bodies to enlarge but with little hepatic growth; whereas, the reverse occurs at 20°C.