Rana esculenta specimens were collected, during the last 13 years, in well-defined areas around Naples. The annual ovarian cycle shows distinct phases of recrudescence (starting September; vitellogenesis), breeding (late March-early July; egg deposition and active oogenesis) and quiescence (July-August; no follicular growth). Previtellogenic follicles are recruited for vitellogenesis in early September and in between two successive ovulatory waves. Breeding congregations are generally formed after a heavy rain fall and eggs are laid in standing waters, temporary or permanent. A maximum of three clutches of eggs is produced during the breeding season, at roughly monthly intervals. All mature females reproduce to some extent. Ovarian weight and clutch size are positively correlated to body weight. Depending upon the body size, the potential clutch size ranges from 1000 to 3500 eggs during the first wave of ovulation and it is notably smaller in the successive wave(s) of ovulation. Egg masses and tadpoles are left unprotected and mortality is high. The life cycle from the fertilized egg to completion of metamorphosis is 2 months and oogenesis in the ovary starts in the larva before the onset of metamorphic climax. Young females hatching from the first clutch of eggs may reach sexual maturity and breed in May the following year; those hatching from the last clutch require nearly 20 months to reach sexual maturity. The importance of some endocrine and exocrine factors for the regulation of ovarian activity and reproduction is discussed.
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