The dorsal skin gland appears to be a sexually dimorphic character for all species of Dipodomys; however, this feature has not been characterized for most taxa. Previous studies of several species have demonstrated the histological uniqueness of the gland in D. spectabilis. Other attempts to correlate seasonal variation in gland size with reproductive patterns have met with mixed success. An examination of the dorsal skin glands of 333 museum study skins of adult Dipodomys elator demonstrated a July–August size decrease in both sexes, although the glands of males were larger and more variable in size than those of females. Gland size of males was positively correlated with testes measurements, and the data for females, though more limited, suggested that postpartum individuals exhibited greater gland development than pregnant animals. Histological samples demonstrated that the fully developed dorsal skin gland in D. elator consists of about 100 individual secretory units, is similar to 5 other species of kangaroo rats (D. agilis, D. deserti, D. merriami, D. ordii, D. panamintinus; Quay 1954), and is markedly different than that of D. spectabilis. We present a histological description of the dorsal gland of juveniles and the underlying panniculus dorsalis.
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Vol. 66 • No. 4