[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The critically endangered red wolf (Canis rufus) has been subject to a strictly managed captive breeding program for three decades. A retrospective demographic analysis of the captive population was performed based on data from the red wolf studbook. Data analyses revealed a decrease in the effective population size relative to the total population size, and changes in age structure and inbreeding coefficients over time. To varying degrees, the probability of successful breeding and litter sizes declined in association with increasing dam age and sire inbreeding coefficients. Neonate survival also declined with increasing dam age. Recent changes in strategies regarding breed-pair recommendations have resulted in moderate increases in reproductive success.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Successful cryopreservation of sperm and the maintenance of a sperm-based genome resource bank have been identified as priorities for the recovery of the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus). The objectives were to improve sperm processing and to determine the relative timing of damage to red wolf sperm during freezing and thawing. Fresh ejaculates (n=37) from adult red wolves (n=15, aged 2-13 y) were collected via electroejaculation and subjected to cooling, freezing and thawing in four TRIS-egg-yolk extender treatments varying in osmolality ( approximately 305 mOsm versus approximately 350 mOsm) and egg-yolk composition (0.8 microm-filtered versus unfiltered). Ejaculates were evaluated for sperm percentage motility, forward progressive motion, and morphological characteristics immediately upon collection and following extension, cooling (prior to freezing) and thawing. Although no single treatment consistently produced superior results, sperm suspended in approximately 305 mOsm extenders exhibited slight losses in motility post-thawing (13 and 7%). Also, sperm suspended in approximately 350 mOsm extenders tended to have slower rates of decline in motility in vitro post-thawing than those stored in approximately 305 mOsm extenders (P=0.55). Finally, extenders incorporating unfiltered egg yolk exhibited a slightly larger ratio of absent to partial acrosomes than did sperm frozen in extenders prepared with clarified egg yolk. For approximately 350 mOsm extenders, most motility loss occurred during the cooling rather than freezing and thawing. In conclusion, these data contribute to knowledge regarding cryopreservation of red wolf sperm.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Measurement of glucocorticoid metabolites in feces has become an accepted method for the noninvasive evaluation of adrenocortical activity. The objective of this study was to determine if a simple cortisol enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was suitable for monitoring adrenocortical activity in a variety of carnivore species. Performance of the cortisol EIA was gauged by comparison to a corticosterone radioimmunoassay (RIA) that has been used for measuring glucocorticoid metabolites in feces of numerous species. Tests for parallelism and extraction efficiency were used to compare the cortisol EIA and corticosterone RIA across eight species of carnivores (Himalayan black bear, sloth bear, domestic cat, cheetah, clouded leopard, black-footed ferret, slender-tailed meerkat, and red wolf). The biological relevance of immunoreactive glucocorticoid metabolites in feces was established for at least one species of each Carnivora family studied with an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) challenge. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of fecal extracts for each species revealed (1) the presence of multiple immunoreactive glucocorticoid metabolites in feces, but (2) the two immunoassays measured different metabolites, and (3) there were differences across species in the number and polarities of metabolites identified between assay systems. ACTH challenge studies revealed increases in fecal metabolite concentrations measured by the cortisol EIA and corticosterone RIA of approximately 228-1145% and approximately 231-4150% above pre-treatment baseline, respectively, within 1-2 days of injection. Concentrations of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites measured by the cortisol EIA and corticosterone RIA during longitudinal evaluation (i.e., >50 days) of several species were significantly correlated (P<0.0025, correlation coefficient range 0.383-0.975). Adrenocortical responses to physical and psychological stressors during longitudinal evaluations varied with the type of stimulus, between episodes of the same stimulus, and among species. Significant elevations of glucocorticoid metabolites were observed following some potentially stressful situations [anesthesia (2 of 3 subjects), restraint and saline injection (2 of 2 subjects), restraint and blood sampling (2 of 6 episodes), medical treatment (1 of 1 subject)], but not in all cases [e.g., gonadotropin injection (n=4), physical restraint only (n=1), mate introduction/breeding (n=1), social tension (n=1), construction (n=2) or relocation (n=1)]. Results reinforced the importance of an adequate baseline period of fecal sampling and frequent collections to assess adrenocortical status. The corticosterone RIA detected greater adrenocortical responses to exogenous ACTH and stressful exogenous stimuli in the Himalayan black bear, domestic cat (female), cheetah, clouded leopard, slender-tailed meerkat, and red wolf, whereas the cortisol EIA proved superior to resolving adrenocortical responses in the black-footed ferret and domestic cat (male). Overall results suggest the cortisol EIA tested in this study offers a practical method for laboratories restricted in the usage of radioisotopes (e.g., zoological institutions and field facilities) to integrate noninvasive monitoring of adrenocortical activity into studies of carnivore behavior and physiology.
General and Comparative Endocrinology 07/2004; 137(2):148-65. · 2.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A current priority for the preservation of the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus) is the development of a sperm-based genome resource bank. The aims of this study were to examine the effects of (i) holding temperature on the motility of spermatozoa over time, and (ii) cooling methods on the characteristics of spermatozoa after cooling and cryopreservation. Electroejaculates (n = 11; fresh) were evaluated for the percentage of motile spermatozoa, cell and acrosome morphology (Spermac (Meditech 1st Canada Inc, Montreal, Ontario) and fluorescein isothiocyanate-labelled Pisum sativum agglutinin lectin (PSA/FITC; Sigma Diagnostics, Oakville, Ontario) staining), and zona penetration. Semen samples were then divided into two equal samples and centrifuged to remove seminal plasma. One half of the ejaculate sample was re-suspended in sperm-Tyrode's albumin lactate pyruvate (TALP), divided into three aliquots and maintained either at room temperature (approximately 21-23 degrees C), 0 degree C or 37 degrees C. Sperm motility was examined at 0.5 and 1.0 h, and subsequently every hour for 10 h. Motility of spermatozoa decreased after 2 h, but was consistently greater at room temperature than at 37 degrees C or 0 degree C. The other half of the ejaculate sample was re-suspended in an egg yolk-based extender and divided into two aliquots. One aliquot was cooled in a refrigerator (5 degrees C) for 30 min, whereas the second aliquot was put into a beaker containing water at 37 degrees C, which was then placed into an ice bath until the sample reached 0 degree C (approximately 120 min). Spermatozoa were evaluated after cooling and after freezing and thawing treatments. No differences were observed between cooling treatments either after cooling or freezing and thawing. However, marked decreases in intact acrosomes, post-thaw motility and normal morphology of spermatozoa after treatment demonstrate that further investigations are necessary to improve cryopreservation methods in this species.
Journal of reproduction and fertility. Supplement 02/2001; 57:387-92.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in feline and canine reproductive studies demonstrate how methodically piecing this information together is beginning to reap rewards for wildlife conservation programs. Non-invasive endocrinology can be used to monitor female reproductive function, time con-specific introductions or AI, and diagnose pregnancy. Sperm morphology characteristics and cell membrane function may be genetically inherited and differ between genetically diverse and inbred species/populations in felids. It is not clear if the same is true for the endangered red wolf. While standards exist for freezing feline and canine sperm, new information using fluorescent staining and zona penetration assays (ZPA) indicates that significant damage can occur during pre-freeze cooling, and may also be related to a species' genetic diversity. Posthumous gamete salvage from genetically valuable animals not only provides a means to study sperm and oocyte physiology but also to assist with genetic management of populations. Using the knowledge gained, IVM/IVF and ICSI have been successful in the domestic cat and AI has resulted in offspring in numerous non-domestic felids. However, understanding the processes of IVM/IVF is still not well understood in canids. New information reveals that sperm and the cumulus cells may be integral to oocyte maturation and that canine epididymal sperm are not capable of undergoing fertilization. The acquisition of knowledge and application of biotechnologies lags behind for non-domestic canid conservation programs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ejaculates of the red wolf (Canis rufus) were evaluated immediately after collection and freeze-thawing to initiate a reproductive database for this endangered species. Electroejaculates from 13 adult red wolves collected during the breeding season (February-March; n=25; 1-3 collections/male) had a mean volume of 4.7+/-0.7 ml, 146.5+/-25.7 x 10(6) spermatozoa/ml and 71.2% motile spermatozoa. The mean proportion of cells with normal morphology was 73.6+/-3.2% (range, 20.3-93.7%), with 64% of ejaculates (16/25) containing 70-90% normal spermatozoa. The four most predominant abnormalities were a coiled flagellum (8.1%), a bent flagellum (4.7%), a bent midpiece with no cytoplasmic droplet (3.3%;), and a detached head defect (6.4%). After cooling in glycerolated extender, semen was frozen using a pelleting method on dry ice before plunging into liquid nitrogen. Pellets were thawed in phosphate buffered saline and examined for % sperm motility, normal morphology, viability and intact acrosomes. There was a decline (P < 0.05) in sperm motility (approximately 40%) and percentage of normal sperm (11.9%) after freezing, but no change in the proportion of viable cells. After freezing, there was a marked decline (P < 0.05) in the proportion of intact acrosomes from 74.5% to 55.5% which was accompanied by an increased proportion (P < 0.05) of partial acrosomes from 11.9% to 35.8%. These data demonstrate that, although red wolf spermatozoa can survive freeze-thawing using a technique common for domestic dog sperm, the finding of significant acrosome damage reveals (1) likely species specificity in the Canis genus and (2) the need for refining sperm cryopreservation technology for the red wolf.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Semen parameters were evaluated on ejaculates of a captive population of red wolves (Canis rufus) sampled over two consecutive mating seasons. A total of 31 samples from 15 animals yielded mean sperm motility of 69.6 +/- 19.4%, mean sperm density of 131 +/- 124 x 10(6) ml-1, mean total number of spermatozoa of 470 +/- 465 x 10(6) and mean percentage morphologically abnormal spermatozoa of 35 +/- 11.8%. Restricting the data to animals sampled three times or more or limiting the samples to proven breeders resulted in statistically non-significant differences in these numbers (P < 0.05). When compared with data from other canines the seminal parameters of red wolves are at the lower extremes of the range. In particular the proportion of morphologically abnormal spermatozoa (35%) is approximately twice that seen in other canine species. Light microscopic analysis of abnormal forms revealed that almost half (45%) were bent defects, another 40% were secondary defects (coiled, detached and immature) and 15% were primary defects. Electron microscopy confirmed the presence of substantial numbers of morphologically abnormal forms including double-headed and double-flagellar cells, bent or kinked forms especially in the neck region, acrosomal abnormalities and bizarre spermatids. Approximately one-third of the samples also showed the presence of white blood cells, in some cases demonstrating sperm phagocytosis (spermophagy). These results are consistent with the concept of declining sperm parameters associated with restricted gene pools in numerically limited populations. However, alternative explanations are also explored.