Threshold photoperiods for the induction of short day traits in collared lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus).

Academic Article


  • When exposed to short photoperiod collared lemmings undergo a number of physiological and morphological changes including an increase in body weight, a change in body composition, development and enlargement of the bifid "digging" claw, and a molt to a white winter pelage. We investigated the threshold photoperiods for the induction of these traits in male and female lemmings born and raised under a 22L:2D photoperiod and transferred at weaning (19 days of age) to various other photoperiods. Male lemmings showed the characteristic increase in body weight when exposed to 16 hr of light or less per day whereas females required a photoperiod of 14 hr of light or less per day to elicit an increase in body weight. The threshold photoperiods for the increase in bifid claw size were 16 and 18 hr of light per day in male and female lemmings, respectively. The molt to the white winter pelage began under a longer photoperiod in females (16L:8D) than in males (14L:10D). Testes and seminal vesicles were significantly inhibited by photoperiods of 22L:2D and 20L:4D. Likewise, uterine weights were inhibited by maintenance on a photoperiod of 22L:2D. Taken together, these data show that the threshold photoperiods for the induction of the short day traits in collared lemmings are both trait- and sex-dependent. These observations also suggest that under some conditions, exposure to long photoperiods can inhibit sexual maturation.
  • Published In


  • Animals, Arvicolinae, Body Composition, Body Weight, Female, Hair, Male, Photoperiod, Prolactin, Reproduction, Sensory Thresholds
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Nagy TR; Gower BA; Stetson MH
  • Start Page

  • 57
  • End Page

  • 66
  • Volume

  • 267
  • Issue

  • 1