Muscles provide an internal water reserve for reproduction

George A. Brusch, Olivier Lourdais, Brittany Kaminsky, Dale Denardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The use of fat to support the energy needs of reproduction (i.e. capital breeding) has been studied in a diversity of taxa. However, despite reproductive output (i.e. young or eggs) being approximately 70% water, little is known about the availability of internal resources to accommodate the hydric demands of reproduction. Recent research suggests that dehydration increases the catabolism of muscle as a means of maintaining water balance. Accordingly, we investigated the interactive effects of reproductive investment and water deprivation on catabolism and reproductive output in female Children’s pythons (Antaresia childreni). Both reproductive and nonreproductive females were either provided water ad libitum or were water-deprived for three weeks at the time when reproductive females were gravid. We found that water-deprived reproductive females had, in general, greater body mass loss, epaxial muscle loss, plasma osmolality and plasma uric acid concentrations relative to the other groups. Furthermore, water-deprived females had similar clutch sizes compared with females with access to water, but produced lighter eggs and lower total clutch masses. Our results provide the first evidence that selective protein catabolism can be used to support water demands during reproduction, and, as a result, these findings extend the capital breeding concept to non-energetic resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20180752
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1881
StatePublished - Jun 27 2018


  • Bound water
  • Capital breeder
  • Protein catabolism
  • Reproductive costs
  • Water constraints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Muscles provide an internal water reserve for reproduction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this