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Seasonal variation in sonic muscles in the fawn cusk-eel <i>Lepophidium profundorum</i>

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The fawn cusk-eel Lepophidium profundorum (Ophidiidae) has an unusual sound-producing system with sexually dimorphic sets of antagonistic muscles. Outside the mating season, the dorsal and ventral muscles are well developed and larger in males than in females, but the tiny intermediate muscles are smaller, suggesting a minor role, if any, in male advertisement call production. We examined summer individuals with more developed gonads and find a fourfold hypertrophy of the intermediate but not the other muscles. This result suggests androgen dependence and an important role in sound production for the intermediate muscle. Even though both sexes gain weight in the summer, the ventral and dorsal muscles in females lose weight, suggesting that sound production is less important in females and that muscle mass may be used to support egg growth.

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