Reproductive endocrine patterns in captive female and male red wolves (Canis rufus) assessed by fecal and serum hormone analysis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
S. L. Walker, W. T. Waddell, K. L. Goodrowe
Zoo Biology
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Abstract Reproductive steroid profiles in female (n=13) and male (n=5) red wolves (Canis rufus) were characterized in fecal samples collected during the breeding season (December—May) and over a 1 year period, respectively. Blood samples from females (n=12) also were collected during the periovulatory period for luteinizing hormone (LH) and steroid analysis. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) of fecal extracts determined that estradiol and estrone constituted the major and minor forms, respectively, of fecal estrogen metabolites. Although native progesterone was present, pregnane metabolites predominated as the major forms of fecal progestins. HPLC analysis of fecal extracts from males revealed no native testosterone, but rather the predominance of more polar androgen metabolites. Based on hormone profiles and/or pup production, females were classified as pregnant (n=3), ovulatory-nonpregnant (n=9), or acyclic (n=3). Longitudinal monitoring of females indicated no pregnancy-specific differences in concentrations of either fecal progestagen or estrogen metabolites compared to ovulatory-nonpregnant individuals; however, baseline progestagen concentrations were consistently elevated in acyclic females. There was good correspondence between serum and fecal steroid concentration during the periovulatory period. A rise in serum estrogens preceded the ovulatory LH surge which was then followed by a significant progesterone rise during the luteal phase. In males, changes in fecal androgen metabolite concentrations coincided with photoperiod fluctuations, increasing in late autumn and reaching peak concentrations during mid- to late winter just before the start of the breeding season. Collectively, these results serve as a database of ovarian and testicular endocrine events in this species, which can be utilized in population management and application of assisted reproductive technologies. Zoo Biol 21:321–335, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


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