• Body size and sexual selection in the koala

      Ellis, William A.; Bercovitch, Fred B. (2011)
      ...Koalas are sexually dimorphic in multiple domains, yet are absent from the literature on sexual selection and the structure of their mating system is unclear. We provide the first documentation of the strength of sexual selection in koalas by using microsatellite markers to identify sires....
    • Body size, demography, and body condition in Ctenosaura bakeri

      Pasachnik, Stesha A.; Montgomery, C.E.; Martinez, A.; Belal, N.; Clayson, S.; Faulkner, S. (2012)
      Abstract.—Utila Spiny-tailed Iguanas, Ctenosaura bakeri, are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Redlist Assessment and are listed under Appendix II of CITES. This species occupies a portion of Utila, a small continental island located off the northern coast of Honduras, in the Bay Islands chain. Habitat destruction and overharvesting for consumption and the pet trade are among the top threats facing this species. Though first described in 1901 (Stejneger) and currently the focus of a local conservation program, little is known concerning that basic biology of this species. Combining data from six years we examined body size, sexual size dimorphism, and changes in demography and body condition over the study period. Our results indicate that males are larger and heavier than females on average, and have a longer tail for a given snout-vent length, as is the case with most iguanas. Over the study period we found an increase in the ratio of males to females, suggesting that female biased hunting pressure is increasing. This is consistent with an increase in the human population size and a preference for consuming gravid females. The body condition of both males and females declined over the duration of the study, which is suggestive of a decrease in habitat quality. These results indicate that the situation for this endangered species is becoming increasingly threatening. Conservation measures should focus on alleviating these threats through increased law enforcement, outreach, and education.
    • Characterization of color pattern dimorphism in Turks and Caicos boas, Chilabothrus chrysogaster chrysogaster, on Big Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands

      Reynolds, R. Graham; Gerber, Glenn P.; Burgess, Joseph P.; Waters, George H.; Manco, B. Naqqi (2020)
      …Based on examination of 737 live wild specimens observed over 12 yr within a population of boas on Big Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands, we characterized the striped/spotted CPD and examined potential morphological and spatial correlates of this pattern dimorphism. Contrary to predictions based on studies of similar CPD in colubrid snakes, we found no association between striped or spotted morphs and sex, age, size, or potential morphological correlates….
    • Epidemiology of tuberculosis in multi-host wildlife systems: Implications for black (Diceros bicornis) and white (Ceratotherium simum) rhinoceros

      Dwyer, Rebecca A.; Witte, Carmel L.; Buss, Peter; Goosen, Wynand J.; Miller, Michele (2020)
      Cases of tuberculosis (TB) resulting from infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) have been recorded in captive white (Ceratotherium simum) and black (Diceros bicornis) rhinoceros. More recently, cases have been documented in free-ranging populations of both species in bovine tuberculosis (bTB) endemic areas of South Africa. There is limited information on risk factors and transmission patterns for MTBC infections in African rhinoceros, however, extrapolation from literature on MTBC infections in other species and multi-host systems provides a foundation for understanding TB epidemiology in rhinoceros species. Current diagnostic tests include blood-based immunoassays but distinguishing between subclinical and active infections remains challenging due to the lack of diagnostic techniques. In other species, demographic risk factors for MTBC infection include sex and age, where males and adults are generally at higher risk than females and younger individuals. Limited available historical information reflects similar age- and sex-associated patterns for TB in captive black and white rhinoceros, with more reports of MTBC-associated disease in black rhinoceros than in white rhinoceros. The degree of MTBC exposure in susceptible wildlife depends on their level of interaction, either directly with other infected individuals or indirectly through MTBC contaminated environments, which is dependent on the presence and abundance of infected reservoir hosts and the amount of MTBC shed in their excreta. Captive African rhinoceros have shown evidence of MTBC shedding, and although infection levels are low in free-ranging rhinoceros, there is a risk for intraspecies transmission. Free-ranging rhinoceros in bTB endemic areas may be exposed to MTBC from other infected host species, such as the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), through shared environmental niches, and resource co-utilization. This review describes current knowledge and information gaps regarding the epidemiology of TB in African rhinoceros.
    • Hormones and reproductive cycles in Crocodilians

      Milnes, Matthew R.; Norris, D.O.; Lopez, K.H. (ElsevierSan Diego, CA, 2011)
      During embryonic development, hormonal influence upon sexual differentiation in crocodilians begins and continues for years until sexual maturation is attained. Shortly after sex determination, estrogen production in the embryonic ovary increases and promotes proliferation of the Müsllerian ducts, whereas the testis produces anti-Müllerian hormone, which results in its regression....
    • Koala birth seasonality and sex ratios across multiple sites in Queensland, Australia

      Ellis, William A.H.; Bercovitch, Fred B.; FitzGibbon, S.; Melzer, A.; de Villers, D.; Dique, D.; (2010)
      ...he annual pattern of births was identical for males and females within locations, but overall annual patterns of births differed between the southern and northern sites. We conclude that koalas can bear offspring in every month of the year, but breed seasonally across Australia, and that a sex bias in the timing of births is absent from most regions.
    • Morphological and demographic analyses of Ctenosaura melanosterna across its range: Implications for population level management

      Pasachnik, Stesha A.; Montgomery, C.E.; Ruyle, L.E.; Corneal, J.P.; Antunez, E.E. (2012)
      The Black-chested Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura melanosterna, is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Redlist Assessment and under Appendix II of CITES. The species has two evolutionarily significant units (ESUs), found in the Valle de Aguán and the Cayos Cochinos Archipelago, Honduras. Each ESU has been shown to be genetically distinct and each is listed, for differing reasons, as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Habitat destruction and overharvesting for consumption and the pet trade are among the top threats facing the mainland, Valle de Aguán, population. The Cayos Cochinos population faces similar threats to a lesser degree; however, its restricted range (2.2 km2 ) heightens the potential severity of these threats, and makes this population highly susceptible to the impact of hurricanes. We examined body size, demography, and body condition in both populations. Our results show that the average adult size is smaller on the mainland, and there are more than expected small individuals in that population. Additionally the sex ratio is significantly male biased on the mainland relative to the islands. These results demonstrate evidence of a more severe poaching pressure on the mainland that is biased towards larger individuals and females. Body condition index did not differ between the more disturbed mainland area and the more pristine island area, suggesting that habitat alteration does not pose as serious a threat to the mainland population as poaching. Potential negative effects of a restricted range on the morphology and demography of the island ESU were observed. Conservation measures should acknowledge the differences between the ESUs when defining management initiatives for this species.
    • Scent-marking behavior by female sloth bears during estrus

      Khadpekar, Yaduraj; Whiteman, John P.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Owen, Megan A.; Prakash, Sant (2021)
      … Important aspects of sloth bear biology and ecology, such as reproductive physiology and behavior, are largely unknown. Increased scent-marking by anogenital rubbing during breeding season has been recorded in other bear species. We studied the genital rubbing behavior of 37 captive female sloth bears (2–18 yr of age) at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, India, for 4 breeding seasons over a period of 3.5 years (1 Jun 2015 to 31 Dec 2018)….
    • Sex-specific epigenetic profile of inner cell mass of mice conceived in vivo or by IVF

      Ruggeri, Elena; Lira-Albarrán, Saúl; Grow, Edward J; Liu, Xiaowei; Harner, Royce; Maltepe, Emin; Ramalho-Santos, Miguel; Donjacour, Annemarie; Rinaudo, Paolo (2020)
      …Animal studies indicate that IVF offspring display metabolic alterations, including hypertension, glucose intolerance and cardiac hypertrophy, often in a sexual dimorphic fashion. The detailed nature of epigenetic changes following in-vitro culture is, however, unknown. This study was performed to evaluate the epigenetic (using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq)) and transcriptomic changes (using RNA-seq) occurring in the inner cell mass (ICM) of male or female mouse embryos generated in vivo or by IVF....
    • Social context mediates testosterone's effect on snort acoustics in male hyrax songs

      Weissman, Yishai A.; Demartsev, Vlad; Ilany, Amiyaal; Barocas, Adi; Bar-Ziv, Einat; Geffen, Eli; Koren, Lee (2019)
      Testosterone affects physical and motivational states, both of which may strongly influence vocalization structure and acoustics. The loud complex calls (i.e., songs) of male rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) are used as honest signals for advertising physical and social states. The snort, a low frequency, noisy element of the song, encodes information on the singer's age and social rank via harshness, as measured by jitter (i.e., acoustic frequency stability) and duration; suggesting that the snort concomitantly advertises both vocal stability and aggression. Our past findings revealed that testosterone levels are related to both vocal elements and social status of male hyraxes, suggesting that hormonal mechanisms mediate the motivation for aggressive and courtship behaviors. Here we examined whether long-term androgen levels are related to snort acoustics and song structure by comparing levels of testosterone in hair with acoustic and structural parameters. We found that songs performed by individuals with higher testosterone levels include more singing bouts and longer, smoother snorts, but only in those songs induced by external triggers. It is possible that hyraxes with higher levels of testosterone possess the ability to perform higher-quality singing, but only invest in situations of high social arousal and potential benefit. Surprisingly, in spontaneous songs, hyraxes with high testosterone were found to snort more harshly than low-testosterone males. The context dependent effects of high testosterone on snort acoustics suggest that the aggressive emotional arousal associated with testosterone is naturally reflected in the jittery hyrax snort, but that it can be masked by high-quality performance.
    • Winning the genetic lottery: Biasing birth sex ratio results in more grandchildren

      Thorgerson, C.M.; Brady, C.M.; Howard, H.R.; Mason, G.J.; Vicino, Greg A. (2013)
      Population dynamics predicts that on average parents should invest equally in male and female offspring; similarly, the physiology of mammalian sex determination is supposedly stochastic, producing equal numbers of sons and daughters. However, a high quality parent can maximize fitness by biasing their birth sex ratio (SR) to the sex with the greatest potential to disproportionately outperform peers. All SR manipulation theories share a fundamental prediction: grandparents who bias birth SR should produce more grandoffspring via the favored sex. The celebrated examples of biased birth SRs in nature consistent with SR manipulation theories provide compelling circumstantial evidence. However, this prediction has never been directly tested in mammals, primarily because the complete three-generation pedigrees needed to test whether individual favored offspring produce more grandoffspring for the biasing grandparent are essentially impossible to obtain in nature. Three-generation pedigrees were constructed using 90 years of captive breeding records from 198 mammalian species. Male and female grandparents consistently biased their birth SR toward the sex that maximized second-generation success. The most strongly male-biased granddams and grandsires produced respectively 29% and 25% more grandoffspring than non-skewing conspecifics. The sons of the most male-biasing granddams were 2.7 times as fecund as those of granddams with a 50∶50 bias (similar results are seen in grandsires). Daughters of the strongest female-biasing granddams were 1.2 times as fecund as those of non-biasing females (this effect is not seen in grandsires). To our knowledge, these results are the first formal test of the hypothesis that birth SR manipulation is adaptive in mammals in terms of grandchildren produced, showing that SR manipulation can explain biased birth SR in general across mammalian species. These findings also have practical implications: parental control of birth SR has the potential to accelerate genetic loss and risk of extinction within captive populations of endangered species.