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The system of endocrine glands secreting a variety of hormones, which are controlled by peptide hormones released from the pituitary and by direct neural input.
The endocrine system can be disrupted by a variety of compounds, which may markedly affect the fauna of the coastal environment. The main area of concern for the effect of these compounds are the steroid hormones produced by the gonads which, in conjunction with some other hormones (particularly those produced by the pituitary), control processes such as reproduction and sexual behaviour, fetal differentiation and development, and maturation. They also influence the immune system and general metabolism. It has been demonstrated that the compounds may reduce the fertility of wildlife. They might be responsible for reduced sperm counts in mammals, including humans, reduced penises and abnormal testis morphology in reptiles and feminization of the sexual behavior of male birds.
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