Seasonal effects on testes size and sustained semen quality in captive golden-headed lion tamarins, Leontopithecus chrysomelas

The golden-headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) is an endangered primate that, according to timing of births, there seems to have seasonal reproductive patterns in captive populations inhabiting the Southern Hemisphere. The extent to which male tamarins have cir- cannual cyclic fluctuations in testicular functions, however, remains unknown. Changes in testis size and seminal variables, therefore, were evaluated during the rainy and dry seasons of the year in seven males. There was estimation of mating and birth seasons from the breeding colony using a 27 year database (229 birth records). Births were distributed throughout the year with peaks occurring in August-October and January-March (39.7 % and 30.5 % of all births, respectively). Semen collection using penile vibrostimulation was successfully induced in more than 96 % of the attempts regardless of the season (total of 75 ejaculates). Body mass did not vary significantly between seasons, but relative testes size was larger during the dry season. Values for none of the seminal variables (total sperm count, total and progressive motility, plasma membrane and ac- rosome integrity, and total sperm defects), however, were different during the rainy and dry seasons. These results indicate that testicular function in golden-headed lion tamarins may not be affected by daylength changes, and that seasonal patterns of female reproduction is perhaps more relevant for the reproductive timing of the species. Furthermore, the possibility of year-round production of ejaculates containing viable sperm broadens our perspective of preserving genetic diversity within the species because there is a greater opportunity for semen collection and freezing.