The “male effect” in sheep and goats: a review of the respective roles of the two olfactory systems

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
H. Gelez, C. Fabre-Nys
Hormones and Behavior
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In sheep and goats, exposure of seasonally anestrous females to sexually active males results in activation of luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion and synchronized ovulation. This phenomenon is named “the male effect” and seems to constitute a major factor in the control of reproductive events. This effect depends mostly on olfactory cues and is largely mimicked by exposure to male fleece only. In sheep, preventing the vomeronasal organ (VNO) from functioning does not affect the female responses to male odor suggesting that, unlike in rodents, the accessory olfactory system does not play the major role in the perception of this pheromonal cue. Female responses also seem to depend on previous experience, an effect that is not common for pheromones and renders this model of special interest. The aim of the present report is to summarize our current knowledge concerning the “male effect” and in particular to clarify the respective roles of the two olfactory systems in the processes involved in this effect.


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