• 117 Cryopreservation of snake semen: Are we frozen in time?

      Zacariotti, R.; Guimarães, M.; Jensen, Thomas; Durrant, Barbara S. (2011)
      The increasing number of endangered snake species, isolation of small fragmented populations with associated inbreeding and mating or conception problems in captivity underscore the need to develop assisted reproductive techniques such as semen cryopreservation and artificial insemination to enhance conservation efforts. However, no efficient protocols for semen evaluation, cooling, or freezing are described in the 4 known publications on snake semen cryopreservation. In this initial study, semen was collected noninvasively from 4 live adult red diamond rattlesnakes (Crotalus ruber) by ventral massage....
    • A meta-analysis of birth-origin effects on reproduction in diverse captive environments

      Farquharson, Katherine A.; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Grueber, Catherine E. (2018)
      Successfully establishing captive breeding programs is a priority across diverse industries to address food security, demand for ethical laboratory research animals, and prevent extinction. Differences in reproductive success due to birth origin may threaten the long-term sustainability of captive breeding. Our meta-analysis examining 115 effect sizes from 44 species of invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals shows that, overall, captive-born animals have a 42% decreased odds of reproductive success in captivity compared to their wild-born counterparts. The largest effects are seen in commercial aquaculture, relative to conservation or laboratory settings, and offspring survival and offspring quality were the most sensitive traits. Although a somewhat weaker trend, reproductive success in conservation and laboratory research breeding programs is also in a negative direction for captive-born animals. Our study provides the foundation for future investigation of non-genetic and genetic drivers of change in captivity, and reveals areas for the urgent improvement of captive breeding.
    • Activation of southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) estrogen receptors by phytoestrogens: Potential role in the reproductive failure of captive-born females?

      Tubbs, Christopher W.; Hartig, P.; Cardon, M.; Varga, Nicole; Milnes, Matthew R. (2012)
      The captive southern white rhinoceros (SWR; Ceratotherium simum simum) population serves as an important genetic reservoir critical to the conservation of this vulnerable species. Unfortunately, captive populations are declining due to the poor reproductive success of captive-born females....
    • Advancing laboratory-based zoo research to enhance captive breeding of southern white rhinoceros

      Tubbs, Christopher W.; Minteer, Ben A.; Maienschein, Jane; Collins, James P. (University of Chicago PressChicago, IL, 2018)
      The captive southern white rhinoceros (SWR) is not currently self-sustaining because of low fertility of captive-born females. The cause of this phenomenon is believed to be high dietary levels of phytoestrogens; endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) produced by plants that can mimic the reproductive hormone estrogen....
    • Altered gonadal expression of TGF-beta superfamily signaling factors in environmental contaminant-exposed juvenile alligators

      Moore, B.C.; Milnes, Matthew R.; Kohno, S.; Katsu, Y.; Iguchi, T. (2011)
      Environmental contaminant exposure can influence gonadal steroid signaling milieus; however, little research has investigated the vulnerability of non-steroidal signaling pathways in the gonads. Here we use American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) hatched from field-collected eggs to analyze gonadal mRNA transcript levels of the activin–inhibin–follistatin gene expression network and growth differentiation factor 9....
    • An interdisciplinary systems approach to study sperm physiology and evolution

      Shi, L.Z.; Nascimento, J.; Botvinick, E.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Berns, M.W. (2011)
      Optical trapping is a noninvasive biophotonic tool that has been developed to study the physiological and biomechanical properties of cells…. A real‐time automated tracking and trapping system (RATTS) is described that provides a remote user‐friendly robotic interface…. This combination of photonic physical and engineering tools has been used to examine the evolutionary effect of sperm competition in primates….
    • Characterization of cultured adult Corturnix japonica testicular germ stem cells using seven stem cell markers.

      Jensen, Thomas; Poling, Matthew; Charter, Suellen; Durrant, Barbara S.; (2010)
      ...The large avian oocyte and the inability to consistently superovulate birds make techniques such as cloning and oocyte cryopreservation unlikely tools for avian conservation. Instead, the use of domestic birds as hosts to produce sperm of exotic species for use in artificial insemination may be a practical approach to conserve avian germplasm....
    • Characterization of reproductive gene diversity in the endangered Tasmanian devil

      Brandies, Parice A.; Wright, Belinda R.; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Grueber, Catherine E.; Belov, Katherine (2020)
      ...We characterized single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at 214 genes involved in reproduction in 37 Tasmanian devils…. We will use this information in future to examine the interplay between reproductive gene variation and reproductive fitness in Tasmanian devil populations.
    • Cross-cultural consensus for waist–hip ratio and women's attractiveness

      Singh, Devendra; Dixson, B. J.; Jessop, T. S.; Morgan, Bethan J.; Dixson, Alan F.; (2010)
      In women of reproductive age, a gynoid body fat distribution as measured by the size of waist–hip ratio (WHR) is a reliable indicator of their sex hormone profile, greater success in pregnancy and less risk for major diseases. According to evolutionary mate selection theory, such indicators of health and fertility should be judged as attractive….
    • Disorders of nondomestic mammals

      Rideout, Bruce; Njaa, Bradley L. (John Wiley & Sons, 2012)
      Kirkbride's Diagnosis of Abortion and Neonatal Loss in Animals, Fourth Edition is a concise resource for determining the causes of abortion and neonatal loss in cattle, small ruminants, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, and exotic mammals…. Covers cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, and non-domestic mammals Details the characteristics of many abortifacient causes and associated lesions….
    • Disorders of sexual development in wild and captive exotic animals

      Mastromonaco, G. F.; Houck, Marlys L.; Bergfelt, D. R. (2012)
      ...Compared to the wealth of information available on humans and domestic species, a better understanding of the factors influencing sexual development in wildlife is essential for developing and improving population management or conservation plans. This review attempts to bring together the different facets of DSDs as studied in the fields of reproductive physiology, endocrinology, ecotoxicology, wildlife biology, and environmental health.
    • Ecological determinants of herd size in the Thornicroft’s giraffe of Zambia: Giraffe herd size in Zambia

      Bercovitch, Fred B.; Berry, Philip S.M.; (2010)
      Given that giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) live in an extremely flexible social system, and that breeding is nonseasonal, they are an ideal species for examining how ecological variables contribute to fluctuations in herd size. We present an analysis of 34 years of data on a population of Thornicroft’s giraffe (G. c. thornicrofti Lydekker 1911) that reveal how herd size changes with season and habitat....
    • Effects of season and social interaction on fecal testosterone in wild male giant pandas: implications for energetics and mating strategies

      Nie, Y.; Zhang, Z.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, F. (2012)
      In the first-ever study of reproductive endocrinology in wild male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), we provide new insights into the reproductive ecology of the species. We tracked and observed pandas in Foping Nature Reserve of the Qinling Mountains for 3 years, collecting fecal samples for testosterone metabolite analysis and data on reproductive activity....
    • Effects of season and social interaction on fecal testosterone metabolites in wild male giant pandas: implications for energetics and mating strategies

      Nie, Yong-Gang; Zhang, Ze-Jun; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, Fu-Wei (2012)
      In the first-ever study of reproductive endocrinology in wild male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), we provide new insights into the reproductive ecology of the species. We tracked and observed pandas in Foping Nature Reserve of the Qinling Mountains for 3 years, collecting fecal samples for testosterone metabolite analysis and data on reproductive activity....
    • Estimating the audibility of industrial noise to denning polar bears

      Owen, Megan A.; Pagano, Anthony M.; Wisdom, Sheyna S.; Kirschhoffer, Bj; Bowles, Ann E.; O'Neill, Caitlin (Wiley, 2020-12)
      Oil and gas activities on Alaska's North Slope overlap spatially with polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal denning habitat and temporally with the peri‐partum and emergence periods.... Our findings indicate that although polar bear snow dens effectively attenuate acoustic sound pressure levels, noise from some industrial support vehicles was likely to be detected farther from dens than previously documented. These results reinforce the importance of maintaining buffer zones....
    • Female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) chirps advertise the caller's fertile phase

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Keating, J. L.; Rengui, L.; Huang, Y.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; (2010)
      Although female mammal vocal behaviour is known to advertise fertility, to date, no non-human mammal study has shown that the acoustic structure of female calls varies significantly around their fertile period. Here, we used a combination of hormone measurements and acoustic analyses to determine whether female giant panda chirps have the potential to signal the caller's precise oestrous stage (fertile versus pre-fertile)….
    • Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

      Swaisgood, Ronald R.; McShea, William M.; Wildt, David; Hull, Vanessa; Zhang, Jindong; Owen, Megan A.; Zhang, Zejun; Dvornicky-Raymond, Zachary; Valitutto, Marc; Li, Dihua; et al. (Cambridge University PressCambridge, 2020)
      This chapter comprises the following sections: names, taxonomy, subspecies and distribution, descriptive notes, habitat, movements and home range, activity patterns, feeding ecology, reproduction and growth, behavior, parasites and diseases, status in the wild, and status in captivity.
    • Giant panda scent-marking strategies in the wild: role of season, sex and marking surface

      Nie, Yonggang; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Zhang, Zejun; Hu, Yibo; Ma, Yisheng; Wei, Fuwen (2012)
      ...We studied scent-marking patterns in wild giant pandas in the Foping Nature Reserve by surveying areas containing a high density of scent posts. Pandas did not deploy scent marks randomly in this environment, but targeted trees with specific characteristics that promoted signal persistence, range and/or likelihood of detection....
    • Giant Pandas: Biology, Veterinary Medicine and Management

      Wildt, David E.; Zhang, Anju; Zhang, Hemin; Janssen, Donald L.; Ellis, Susie (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
      The giant panda is one of the world's most recognized animals, but until now the biology of this threatened species has been a mystery....
    • Gut microbiota and phytoestrogen-associated infertility in southern white rhinoceros

      Williams, Candace L.; Ybarra, Alexis R.; Meredith, Ashley N.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Tubbs, Christopher W. (2019)
      With recent poaching of southern white rhinoceros (SWR [Ceratotherium simum simum]) reaching record levels, the need for a robust assurance population is urgent. However, the global captive SWR population is not currently self-sustaining due to the reproductive failure of captive-born females. Dietary phytoestrogens have been proposed to play a role in this phenomenon, and recent work has demonstrated a negative relationship between diet estrogenicity and fertility of captive-born female SWR. To further examine this relationship, we compared gut microbial communities, fecal phytoestrogens, and fertility of SWR to those of another rhinoceros species—the greater one-horned rhinoceros (GOHR [Rhinoceros unicornis]), which consumes a similar diet but exhibits high levels of fertility in captivity. Using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and mass spectrometry, we identified a species-specific fecal microbiota and three dominant fecal phytoestrogen profiles. These profiles exhibited various levels of estrogenicity when tested in an in vitro estrogen receptor activation assay for both rhinoceros species, with profiles dominated by the microbial metabolite equol stimulating the highest levels of receptor activation. Finally, we found that SWR fertility varies significantly not only with respect to phytoestrogen profile, but also with respect to the abundance of several bacterial taxa and microbially derived phytoestrogen metabolites. Taken together, these data suggest that in addition to species differences in estrogen receptor sensitivity to phytoestrogens, reproductive outcomes may be driven by the gut microbiota’s transformation of dietary phytoestrogens in captive SWR females. IMPORTANCE Southern white rhinoceros (SWR) poaching has reached record levels, and captive infertility has rendered SWR assurance populations no longer self-sustaining. Previous work has identified dietary phytoestrogens as a likely cause of this problem. Here, we investigate the role of gut microbiota in this phenomenon by comparing two rhinoceros species to provide the first characterizations of gut microbiomes for any rhinoceros species. To our knowledge, our approach, combining parallel sequencing, mass spectrometry, and estrogen receptor activation assays, provides insight into the relationship between microbially mediated phytoestrogen metabolism and fertility that is novel for any vertebrate species. With this information, we plan to direct future work aimed at developing strategies to improve captive reproduction in the hope of alleviating their threat of extinction.