Ultrasonographic and Endocrine Characterization of Follicular Waves in Llamas with a Special Reference to the Overlapping Phenomenon During Successive Waves



Ovarian follicular growth in non-mated llamas occurs in successive waves that generally superimpose their origin on the regression of the preceding wave (overlapping), originating prolonged sexual receptivity in the species. The aim of this study was to perform an ultrasonographic and endocrine characterization of individual and successive waves in non-mated llamas with a special interest on the overlapping phenomenon. Twelve llamas were examined daily by transrectal ultrasonography for at least two consecutive waves. In six females, blood samples were collected daily at the end of each examination. The development of the largest follicle (F) showed a wavelike pattern with a mean duration of 25 days. All waves evaluated were partially overlapped on the preceding wave and emerged at a mean interval of 15.8 ± 0.5 days. This interwave interval determines a mean overlapping degree of 32% of the wave length. Similarly, mean plasma oestradiol-17β (E2) concentrations followed a wavelike pattern. However, E2 concentrations started to decline before the structural regression of the F was observed. Mean basal E2 concentrations remain higher than 10.9 ± 0.6 pmol/l. In conclusion, follicular activity in non-mated llamas is characterized by continuous emergence of successive waves that always overlap the preceding wave with variable degrees. E2 production during the follicular wave is shorter in duration than the morphological development of the F. Finally, the overlapping phenomenon maintains increased plasma E2 concentrations persistently and this could explain the prolonged periods of sexual receptivity registered in llamas.