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Poessel S.A.,Colorado State University | Biggins D.E.,U.S. Geological Survey | Santymire R.M.,Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology | Livieri T.M.,Prairie Wildlife Research | And 2 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2011

Potential stressors of wildlife living in captivity, such as artificial living conditions and frequent human contact, may lead to a higher occurrence of disease and reduced reproductive function. One successful method used by wildlife managers to improve general well-being is the provision of environmental enrichment, which is the practice of providing animals under managed care with environmental stimuli. The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is a highly-endangered carnivore species that was rescued from extinction by removal of the last remaining individuals from the wild to begin an ex situ breeding program. Our goal was to examine the effect of environmental enrichment on adrenocortical activity in ferrets by monitoring fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM). Results demonstrated that enrichment lowered FGM in juvenile male ferrets, while increasing it in adult females; enrichment had no effect on FGM in juvenile females and adult males. These results correspond with our findings that juvenile males interacted more with the enrichment items than did adult females. However, we did not detect an impact of FGM on the incidence of disease or on the ability of ferrets to become reproductive during the following breeding season. We conclude that an environmental enrichment program could benefit captive juvenile male ferrets by reducing adrenocortical activity. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. Source

Santymire R.,Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology
Reproduction, Fertility and Development | Year: 2016

In the current global health climate, many conservation biologists are managing crisis situations, including increased species extinction rates. One strategy for securing wildlife populations into the future is to preserve biomaterials in genome resource banks (GRB; or 'biobanks'). However, for GRBs to be successful we must understand the fundamental reproductive biology of species, along with developing assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs), including AI and semen cryopreservation. ART has been successfully used for several taxa, from amphibians to mammals, including ungulates, carnivores and primates. Not all these success stories implemented the use of a biobank, but one example that discussed herein is the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) GRB. From a founder population of seven individuals, this species has been breeding in a managed setting for nearly 30 years. The goal of the breeding program is to maintain genetic integrity by ensuring each individual has the opportunity to pass his/her genes onto the next generation, while simultaneously providing animals for release into the wild. Scientists have used ART (e.g. AI) in the recovery program. Recently, semen from an individual of the founder population that was cryopreserved for up to 20 years was used successfully for AI, which improved the genetic diversity of the population. The black-footed ferret recovery program can serve as a model for other endangered species and demonstrates the usefulness of ART and GRBs to maintain highly endangered species into the future. © CSIRO 2016. Source

Lembo T.,University of Glasgow | Lembo T.,Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology | Hampson K.,University of Sheffield | Kaare M.T.,Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute | And 5 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2010

Background: Canine rabies causes many thousands of human deaths every year in Africa, and continues to increase throughout much of the continent. Methodology/Principal Findings: This paper identifies four common reasons given for the lack of effective canine rabies control in Africa: (a) a low priority given for disease control as a result of lack of awareness of the rabies burden; (b) epidemiological constraints such as uncertainties about the required levels of vaccination coverage and the possibility of sustained cycles of infection in wildlife; (c) operational constraints including accessibility of dogs for vaccination and insufficient knowledge of dog population sizes for planning of vaccination campaigns; and (d) limited resources for implementation of rabies surveillance and control. We address each of these issues in turn, presenting data from field studies and modelling approaches used in Tanzania, including burden of disease evaluations, detailed epidemiological studies, operational data from vaccination campaigns in different demographic and ecological settings, and economic analyses of the cost-effectiveness of dog vaccination for human rabies prevention. Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that there are no insurmountable problems to canine rabies control in most of Africa; that elimination of canine rabies is epidemiologically and practically feasible through mass vaccination of domestic dogs; and that domestic dog vaccination provides a cost-effective approach to the prevention and elimination of human rabies deaths. © 2010 Lembo et al. Source

Loeding E.,University of Chicago | Loeding E.,Western Illinois University | Thomas J.,University of Chicago | Bernier D.,Lincoln Park Zoo | Santymire R.,Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science | Year: 2011

Introductions of sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) can be difficult due to the potential ensuing aggression compounded by their large horns. The goal was to use hormonal assays and behavioral analyses to evaluate the success of an introduction of 2 adult females at Lincoln Park Zoo. The objectives were to (a) document behavioral and hormonal changes in 2 female sable antelope during the introduction, (b) compare fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) in each individual during the introduction stages, (c) measure fecal androgen metabolites (FAM) during introduction and compare with dominance rank and observed aggression, and (d) monitor estrous cycle synchronization. Results demonstrate that FGM were higher before than during and after the introduction. Behavioral observations indicated limited aggression between females, although the keeper survey results revealed that the new female was more dominant and had higher mean FGM and FAM than the resident. Both sable antelope were reproductively active throughout the year. Results indicate that fecal hormone analysis can provide zoo management with valuable information to minimize the risk of aggression, injury, and stress during introductions of nonhuman animals. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Source

Heintz M.R.,University of Chicago | Santymire R.M.,University of Chicago | Santymire R.M.,Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology | Parr L.A.,Emory University | Lonsdorf E.V.,University of Chicago
American Journal of Primatology | Year: 2011

Monitoring concentrations of stress hormones is an important tool for behavioral research and conservation for animals both in the wild and captivity. Glucocorticoids can be measured in mammals as an indicator of stress by analyzing blood, feces, urine, hair, feathers, or saliva. The advantages of using saliva for measuring cortisol concentrations are three-fold: it is minimally invasive, multiple samples can be collected from the same individual in a short timeframe, and cortisol has a relatively short response time in saliva as compared with other materials. The purpose of this study was to: (1) conduct an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) challenge as a physiological validation for an enzyme immunoassay to measure salivary cortisol in chimpanzees and (2) characterize the circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol in chimpanzees. We determined that salivary cortisol concentrations peaked 45min following the ACTH challenge, which is similar to humans. Also, salivary cortisol concentrations peaked early in the morning and decreased throughout the day. We recommend that saliva collection may be the most effective method of measuring stress reactivity and has the potential to complement behavioral, cognitive, physiological, and welfare studies. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.. Source

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