A comparative study of ejaculate traits in three endangered ungulates with different levels of inbreeding: fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of reproductive and genetic stress.
We studied three closely related species of endangered gazelles (Gazella dorcas, Gazella dama and Gazella cuvieri) with different levels of inbreeding in order to determine at which intensities inbreeding influences ejaculate traits. We also examined whether fluctuating asymmetry (FA) is a reliable indicator of genetic as well as reproductive stress. Our results show that, within each population, the individual coefficient of inbreeding is inversely related to ejaculate quality only in the species with the highest levels of inbreeding (G. cuvieri). In addition, FA is a reliable indicator of individual levels of inbreeding in both the species with the highest levels of inbreeding (G. cuvieri) and the species with intermediate levels of inbreeding (G. dama). Thus, FA appears in individuals whose levels of inbreeding are still not high enough to affect male reproductive potential and should therefore be considered a sensitive indicator of genetic stress. Finally, FA is also a reliable indicator of male reproductive stress since it is related to individual semen quality in all the species studied. (+info)
Natural transmission of foot-and-mouth disease virus between African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and impala (Aepyceros melampus) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
VP1 gene sequences of SAT-2 type foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) viruses recovered from impala and African buffalo in the Kruger National Park (KNP) were used to determine intra- and interspecies relationships of viruses circulating in these wildlife populations. On this basis five distinct lineages of SAT-2 virus were identified in routine sampling of oesophageopharyngeal epithelium from buffalo between 1988 and 1996. Different lineages were associated with discrete geographic sampling localities. Over the period 1985-95, four unrelated epizootics occurred in impala in defined localities within the KNP. Evidence for natural transmission of FMD between buffalo and impala is presented for the most recent 1995 outbreak, with data linking the 1985 and 1988/9 impala epizootics to viruses associated with specific buffalo herds. (+info)
Annual ovarian cycles in an aseasonal breeder, the springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis).
The springbok is an arid-adapted antelope inhabiting the desert and semidesert regions of southern Africa. Because it thrives in these sparsely vegetated areas, the springbok is of potential agricultural importance and the prospect of domestication has been speculated for many years. However, apart from observational studies on its breeding in the wild, suggesting it is an aseasonal breeder, little is known about the underlying reproductive endocrinology of this species. In this study, biweekly peripheral blood samples were collected from eight captive springbok ewes from October 1995 until September 1998 and analyzed for progesterone. At the start of the study, six ewes were prepubertal and cycling commenced spontaneously between November 1995 and June 1996. Cycling had already commenced in two ewes. At the end of November 1996, estrous cycles ceased abruptly in all ewes and restarted in April 1997. Cycling ceased again between December 1997 and February 1998 and restarted in June 1998 in six ewes; there was no cessation of estrous cycles in two ewes. Thus, although some individuals cycle continuously, there is a clear endocrine anestrus of between 4 and 5 mo in springbok, the timing and duration of which is synchronized between some individuals but the time of onset and cessation is variable from year to year. To ensure that the fluctuations we observed in progesterone levels were reliable indicators of changes in the estrous cycle, blood samples were collected every 6 h for 16 days in August 1998. A surge in LH secretion was observed in all ewes 55 +/- 5 h after the fall in progesterone. Progesterone levels increased again 45 +/- 8 h after the surge. A final study showed that the pattern of melatonin release in springbok exhibits a normal day/night profile, and thus photoperiodic information is transformed into an endocrine code to springbok but does not appear to affect reproduction. Rather, our data raise the possibility that the prevailing ambient temperature may influence the onset of ovarian activity in this species. (+info)
An investigation of heavy metal exposure and risks to wildlife in the Kafue flats of Zambia.
Exposure and ecological risks to heavy metals (copper, zinc, manganese, iron) at Lochnivar and Blue Lagoon National Parks in wildlife dependent on the Kafue river contaminated with mining waste was evaluated. Samples included water, fish, grasses and Kafue Lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis) liver. At both parks copper ranged from 0.03-0.04 mg/l; 3.0-6.0 mg/kg; 11.0-44.0 mg/kg; trace -199.0 mg/kg; while zinc was 0.01 mg/l; 32.0-82.0 mg/kg; 15.0-21.0 mg/kg; and 52.0-138.0 mg/kg; in water, fish, grasses and lechwe, respectively. Manganese ranges were 0.15-0.16 mg/l; 7.0-18.0 mg/kg; 51.0-145.0 mg/kg; and 40.0-53.0 mg/kg while iron ranges were 0.13-0.14 mg/l; 26.0-134.0 mg/kg; 1766.0-1797.0 mg/kg; and 131.0-856.0 mg/kg; in water, fish, grasses and lechwe, respectively. Levels in all samples except water were high indicating potential for adverse effects. (+info)
Use of computer-assisted sperm motility assessment and multivariate pattern analysis to characterize ejaculate quality in Mohor gazelles (Gazella dama mhorr): effects of body weight, electroejaculation technique and short-term semen storage.
Subjective and objective semen assessments were performed on 18 male Mohor gazelles (Gazella dama mhorr). Sperm motility assessments combined with sperm plasma membrane and acrosomal integrity evaluations were undertaken as part of a captive breeding programme. The primary objective was to test methodology for short-term preservation of gazelle semen for artificial insemination (storage in N-[Tris(hydroxymethyl)methyl]-2-aminoethanesulphonic acid-Tris diluent (TEST) for up to 96 h at 17 degrees C). However, the secondary objective was to investigate phenotypic and genotypic influences on semen quality within this small population, which was established in 1971 with only 12 genetic founders. Sperm motility was measured by computer-assisted semen assessment and the data were analysed using a pattern analysis technique to detect and quantify naturally occurring sperm subpopulations within the semen samples. Four sperm subpopulations distinguishable by their motion characteristics were detected. The relative frequencies of two subpopulations (population 2: highly motile, non-linear; and population 4: poorly motile, non-linear) in fresh semen were correlated with the maximum voltage used during electroejaculation. The frequency of subpopulation 2 was negatively correlated with maximum voltage (r = -0.875, P < 0.0001) and the frequency of subpopulation 4 was positively correlated (r = 0.727, P < 0.005). The frequencies of all subpopulations varied significantly among the animals sampled (chi-squared = 2577.6, degrees of freedom = 54, P < 0.0001) and subpopulation 4 was also correlated with body weight (r = -0.59, P < 0.005). Semen stored at 17 degrees C retained motility, plasma membrane and acrosomal integrity for 48 h, but these measures decreased thereafter. The frequency of a sperm subpopulation showing uncoordinated but active motility increased significantly over the first 48 h and then decreased. (+info)
Seasonal variation in energy expenditure, water flux and food consumption of Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx.
We report on the energy expenditure and water flux, measured in the laboratory and in the field, of the Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx, the largest desert ruminant for which measurements of the field metabolic rate of free-living individuals have been made using doubly labeled water. Prior to extirpation of this species in the wild in 1972, conservationists sequestered a number of individuals for captive breeding; in 1989, oryx were reintroduced in Saudi Arabia into Mahazat as-Sayd (2244 km(2)). Apart from small pools of water available after rains, oryx do not have free-standing water available for drinking and therefore rely on grasses that they eat for preformed water intake as well as their energy needs. We tested whether oryx have a reduced fasting metabolic rate and total evaporative water loss (TEWL) in the laboratory, as do some other arid-adapted mammals, and whether oryx have high field metabolic rates (FMRs) and water influx rates (WIRs), as predicted by allometric equations for large arid-zone mammals. We measured FMR and WIR during the hot summer, when plant moisture content was low and ambient temperatures were high, and after winter rains, when the water content of grasses was high. For captive oryx that weighed 84.1 kg, fasting metabolic rate averaged 8980 kJ day(-1), 16.7% lower than predictions for Artiodactyla. Our own re-analysis of minimal metabolic rates among Artiodactyla yielded the equation: logV(O2)=-0.153+0.758logM, where V(O2) is the rate of oxygen uptake in lh(-1) and M is body mass in kg. Fasting metabolic rate of oryx was only 9.1% lower than predicted, suggesting that they do not have an unusually low metabolic rate. TEWL averaged 870.0 ml day(-1), 63.9% lower than predicted, a remarkably low value even compared with the camel, but the mechanisms that contribute to such low rates of water loss remain unresolved. For free-living oryx, FMR was 11076 kJ day(-1) for animals with a mean body mass of 81.5 kg during summer, whereas it was 22081 kJ day(-1) for oryx in spring with a mean body mass of 89.0 kg, values that were 48.6% and 90.4% of allometric predictions, respectively. During summer, WIR averaged 1310 ml H(2)O day(-1), whereas in spring it was 3438 ml H(2)O day(-1). Compared with allometric predictions, WIR was 76.9% lower than expected in summer and 43.6% lower in spring. We found no evidence to support the view that the WIR of large desert ungulates is higher than that of their mesic counterparts. On the basis of the WIR of the oryx averaged over the year and the water contents of plants in their diet, we estimated that an oryx consumes 858 kg of dry matter per year. (+info)
Species-specific sperm-egg interaction affects the utility of a heterologous bovine in vitro fertilization system for evaluating antelope sperm.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate cryopreserved fringe-eared (FE) oryx (Oryx gazella callotis) sperm function using a heterologous in vitro fertilization (IVF) system previously developed to study scimitar-horned (SH) oryx (Oryx dammah) spermatozoa. Semen was collected by electroejaculation from FE oryx (n = 2) and SH oryx (n = 2), evaluated immediately postcollection, and cryopreserved. Thawed spermatozoa were evaluated for motility, forward progression, and acrosomal status immediately post-thaw, after Percoll-separation, and 1, 2, 3, and 8 h after culture in IVF medium. In vitro-matured cow oocytes (n = 924) were inseminated with either domestic bull, FE, or SH oryx spermatozoa and after an 8-h coincubation period, half the oocytes were fixed and examined for sperm penetration, polyspermy, and male pronuclear formation. The remaining oocytes were placed into in vitro culture and evaluated for cleavage after 48 h. Overall, there were no between-species differences in sperm motility and acrosome integrity. However, an effect of time (P < 0.05) and a species-by-time interaction (P < 0.05) were detected for both parameters. Penetration, male pronuclear formation, and embryo cleavage were high (>90%, >85%, and >70%, respectively) for oocytes inseminated with domestic bull and SH oryx spermatozoa and did not differ (P > 0.05) between species. In contrast, very few oocytes (2.8%, 4 of 141) inseminated with FE oryx sperm were penetrated. Cleavage was rare (8.0%, 16 of 200) in oocytes inseminated with FE oryx spermatozoa and did not differ (P > 0.05) from that in parthenogenetic controls (4.2%, 3 of 72). Furthermore, FE oryx spermatozoa were incapable of penetrating zona-free cow oocytes. These results indicate that species-specific differences in gamete interaction may exist even between very closely related nondomestic bovids. (+info)
Hormonal characterization of the reproductive cycle and pregnancy in the female Mohor gazelle (Gazella dama mhorr).
The oestrous cycles of seven captive Mohor Gazelles (Gazella dama mhorr) were investigated. Hormone profiles obtained from faecal samples collected each day from cyclic females indicated that the mean duration of the oestrous cycle was 18.62 +/- 0.26 days (range 16-22 days; n = 37 oestrous cycles). No inter-individual differences in the concentration of faecal progestagen metabolites excreted were observed, but mean faecal oestrogen excretion during both the luteal and inter-luteal phases of the oestrous cycle varied among females (P < 0.001 and P = 0.070, respectively). Oestrous cycles were synchronized using controlled internal drug release (CIDR) devices, before natural mating with an intact male. Concentrations of faecal progestagen metabolites remained approximately constant for the first 10 weeks of gestation (mean +/- SEM = 4048 +/- 407 ng g(-1) faeces), before increasing to a mean of 23 556 +/- 1176 ng g(-1) faeces. Two of seven female gazelles conceived immediately after removal of the CIDR device, a similar proportion to that conceived at the postpartum oestrus under natural conditions. Life history data for these individuals indicated that the mean time to conception in female gazelles is positively correlated with peak values in the ratio of excreted oestrogen : progestagen during the inter-luteal period of their oestrous cycles (R(2) = 0.58; P < 0.05). This finding indicates that interactions between steroid production and metabolism may influence the likelihood of conception occurring in this species. (+info)