Urinary volatile constituents of the lion, Panthera leo.
The volatile components of urine from lions were investigated using GC-MS headspace techniques. Fifty-five compounds were found in the urine samples. Seven potential species-identifying compounds were found. Male lion scent marks overlapped significantly more in compound composition with other males than they did with female marks. A similar relationship was not found for the females. Males had a significantly higher absolute content of 2-butanone in their urine than females, and females had a significantly higher relative content of acetone than males. Samples from 13/16 individual lions overlapped more within the individual than they did with samples from the other individuals, but only seven significantly so. (+info)
Feline papillomas and papillomaviruses.
Papillomaviruses (PVs) are highly species- and site-specific pathogens of stratified squamous epithelium. Although PV infections in the various Felidae are rarely reported, we identified productive infections in six cat species. PV-induced proliferative skin or mucous membrane lesions were confirmed by immunohistochemical screening for papillomavirus-specific capsid antigens. Seven monoclonal antibodies, each of which reacts with an immunodominant antigenic determinant of the bovine papillomavirus L1 gene product, revealed that feline PV capsid epitopes were conserved to various degrees. This battery of monoclonal antibodies established differential expression patterns among cutaneous and oral PVs of snow leopards and domestic cats, suggesting that they represent distinct viruses. Clinically, the lesions in all species and anatomic sites were locally extensive and frequently multiple. Histologically, the areas of epidermal hyperplasia were flat with a similarity to benign tumors induced by cutaneotropic, carcinogenic PVs in immunosuppressed human patients. Limited restriction endonuclease analyses of viral genomic DNA confirmed the variability among three viral genomes recovered from available frozen tissue. Because most previous PV isolates have been species specific, these studies suggest that at least eight different cat papillomaviruses infect the oral cavity (tentative designations: Asian lion, Panthera leo, P1PV; snow leopard, Panthera uncia, PuPV-1; bobcat, Felis rufus, FrPV; Florida panther, Felis concolor, FcPV; clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa, NnPV; and domestic cat, Felis domesticus, FdPV-2) or skin (domestic cat, F. domesticus, FdPV-1; and snow leopard, P. uncia, PuPV-2). (+info)
Differences between antigenic determinants of pig and cat zona pellucida proteins.
Despite many efforts, the control of reproduction in feral cat populations is still a problem in urban regions around the world. Immunocontraception is a promising approach; thus the present study examined the suitability of the widely used pig zona pellucida proteins (pZP) for contraception in feral domestic cats. Purified zona pellucida proteins obtained from pig and cat ovaries were used to produce highly specific antisera in rabbits. Antibodies against pZP raised in rabbits or lions were not effective inhibitors of either in vitro sperm binding (cat spermatozoa to cat oocytes) or in vitro fertilization in cats, whereas antibodies against feline zona pellucida proteins (fZP) raised in rabbits showed a dose-dependent inhibition of in vitro fertilization. Immunoelectrophoresis, ELISA and immunohistology of ovaries confirmed these results, showing crossreactivity of anti-fZP sera to fZP and to a lesser extent to pZP, but no interaction of anti-pZP sera with fZP. It is concluded that cat and pig zonae pellucidae express a very small number of shared antigenic determinants, making the use of pZP vaccine in cats questionable. A contraceptive vaccine based on feline zona pellucida determinants will be a better choice for the control of reproduction in feral cats if immunogenity can be achieved. (+info)
Pathogenesis of two strains of lion (Panthera leo) morbillivirus in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo).
Canine distemper virus (CDV) was previously considered to have a host range restricted to the canid family. In 1994, the virus was associated with sporadic outbreaks of distemper in captive felids. However, after severe mortality occurred in the Serengeti lions (Panthera leo), attention became focused on the pathogenesis of the virus and a concerted effort was made to identify the virus as CDV or a closely related feline morbillivirus. The present study was designed to explore the susceptibility of ferrets to challenge with two morbilliviruses isolated from lions and the protective effects of a modified-live mink distemper vaccine. Because mortality in ferrets infected with pathogenic CDV approaches 100%, the ferret was selected as a test animal. Two strains of lion morbillivirus were used as a challenge, A92-27/20 (California lion isolate) and A94-11/13 (Serengeti lion isolate). The two strains of lion morbillivirus were antigenically related to CDV (Rockborn strain), and ferrets were susceptible to both of the viruses when inoculated intraperitoneally. The inoculated ferrets were anorectic at 5-6 days postinoculation (PI), exhibited oculonasal discharge at 9-12 days PI, and became moribund at 12-22 days PI. Severe bilateral conjunctivitis was the typical clinical sign. Inclusion bodies characteristic of morbillivirus (eosinophilic, intranuclear, and intracytoplasmic) were distributed in many epithelial cells, including those of the skin, conjunctiva, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, trachea, lung, urinary bladder, and kidney. Virus was reisolated from selected lung tissues collected at necropsy and identified by CDV-specific immunofluorescence. Ferrets vaccinated with the mink distemper vaccine (Onderstepoort strain) were protected from challenge with the two lion strains, adding further support to the premise that the viruses are closely related to CDV. (+info)
Egalitarianism in female African lions.
Because most cooperative societies are despotic, it has been difficult to test models of egalitarianism. Female African lions demonstrate a unique form of plural breeding in which companions consistently produce similar numbers of surviving offspring. Consistent with theoretical predictions from models of reproductive skew, female lions are unable to control each other's reproduction because of high costs of fighting and low access to each other's newborn cubs. A female also lacks incentives to reduce her companions' reproduction, because her own survival and reproduction depend on group territoriality and synchronous breeding. Consequently, female relationships are highly symmetrical, and female lions are "free agents" who only contribute to communal care when they have cubs of their own. (+info)
Deriving dispersal distances from genetic data.
Dispersal is one of the most important factors determining the genetic structure of a population, but good data on dispersal distances are rare because it is difficult to observe a large sample of dispersal events. However, genetic data contain unbiased information about the average dispersal distances in species with a strong sex bias in their dispersal rates. By plotting the genetic similarity between members of the philopatric sex against some measure of the distance between them, the resulting regression line can be used for estimating how far dispersing individuals of the opposite sex have moved before settling. Dispersers showing low genetic similarity to members of the opposite sex will on average have originated from further away. Applying this method to a microsatellite dataset from lions (Panthera leo) shows that their average dispersal distance is 1.3 home ranges with a 95% confidence interval of 0.4-3.0 home ranges. These results are consistent with direct observations of dispersal from our study population and others. In this case, direct observations of dispersal distance were not detectably biased by a failure to detect long-range dispersal, which is thought to be a common problem in the estimation of dispersal distance. (+info)
Genomic microsatellites as evolutionary chronometers: a test in wild cats.
Nuclear microsatellite loci (2- to 5-bp tandem repeats) would seem to be ideal markers for population genetic monitoring because of their abundant polymorphism, wide dispersal in vertebrate genomes, near selective neutrality, and ease of assessment; however, questions about their mode of generation, mutation rates and ascertainment bias have limited interpretation considerably. We have assessed the patterns of genomic diversity for ninety feline microsatellite loci among previously characterized populations of cheetahs, lions and pumas in recapitulating demographic history. The results imply that the microsatellite diversity measures (heterozygosity, allele reconstitution and microsatellite allele variance) offer proportionate indicators, albeit with large variance, of historic population bottlenecks and founder effects. The observed rate of reconstruction of new alleles plus the growth in the breadth of microsatellite allele size (variance) was used here to develop genomic estimates of time intervals following historic founder events in cheetahs (12,000 yr ago), in North American pumas (10,000-17,000 yr ago), and in Asiatic lions of the Gir Forest (1000-4000 yr ago). (+info)
Sexual selection, temperature, and the lion's mane.
The mane of the African lion (Panthera leo) is a highly variable trait that reflects male condition and ambient temperature. We examined the consequences of this variation in a long-term study of lions in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Mane darkness indicates nutrition and testosterone and influences both female choice and male-male competition. Mane length signals fighting success and only appears to influence male-male assessment. Dark-maned males enjoy longer reproductive life-spans and higher offspring survival, but they suffer higher surface temperatures, abnormal sperm, and lower food intake during hot months of the year. Maned males are hotter than females, and males have lighter and/or shorter manes in hotter seasons, years, and habitats. This phenotypic plasticity suggests that the mane will respond to forecasted increases in ambient temperature. (+info)