In mink, termination of the delayed implantation period, following reactivation of the corpora lutea, and onset of the spring moult are associated with a rise in prolactin secretion triggered by increasing daylength, while decreasing daylength induces the autumn moult. To establish whether suppression of the function of the pineal rendered the mink unresponsive to daylength changes, the superior cervical ganglion was removed bilaterally 2–4 weeks before mating. Intact and operated females were then left outdoors or were put under a lighting regime of either 15 h light: 9 h darkness (15L: 9D) or 8L: 16D. In July, at the end of the spring moult, the 15L: 9D lighting regime was changed to one of 8L: 16D. Under artificial photoperiods ganglionectomy suppressed the stimulatory role of long days and the inhibitory role of short days on prolactin secretion, and consequently on progesterone secretion and spring moult. Neither was the autumn moult, induced early in intact females by the change to a short photoperiod, advanced in ganglionectomized females, showing that the latter were unresponsive to the artificial modification of the photoperiod. However, in animals kept outdoors, prolactin and progesterone secretion and spring moult were not changed by ganglionectomy. Increase in body weight and autumn moult were only slightly delayed by the operation suggesting that other environmental factors had replaced the synchronizing effect of the daylength changes. Alternatively the desynchronization between intact females responsive to photoperiodism and those rendered unresponsive may be too slow to be observed soon after ganglionectomy.
J. Endocr. (1985) 107, 31–39