Social rank does not affect sperm quality in male African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus)

Van den Berghe, Femke, Paris, Monique C.J., Sarnyai, Zoltan, Briggs, Michael B., Millar, Robert P., Ganswindt, Andre, and Paris, Damien B.B.P. (2019) Social rank does not affect sperm quality in male African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 31 (5). pp. 875-887.

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Sperm banking and AI could benefit endangered African wild dog conservation. However, it is unclear whether their dominance hierarchy causes a decrease in reproductive and sperm quality parameters in subordinate males that typically do not breed. In this study, we investigated the effect of social rank on male reproductive parameters, including faecal androgen and glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations, prostate and testes volume, preputial gland size, semen collection success and sperm quality. Samples were obtained from captive males (prebreeding season: n = 12 from four packs; breeding season: n = 24 from seven packs) that were classified as alpha (dominant), beta or gamma (subordinates) based on the frequency of dominant versus submissive behaviours. In the prebreeding season, semen was successfully collected from all alpha but only half the subordinate males, with urine contamination (associated with lower rank) significantly reducing total and progressive motility, sperm motility index, normal sperm morphology and acrosome integrity. The breeding season was associated with a significant increase in faecal androgens, prostate and testis volume, as well as progressive motility and the total number of spermatozoa ejaculated. However, with the exception of prostate volume (mean ± s.e.m: 12.5 ± 4.5, 7.1 ± 1.0 and 7.3 ± 1.0 cm3 in alpha, beta and gamma males respectively; P = 0.035), all other reproductive and sperm quality parameters did not differ between males of each social rank. In conclusion, reproductive suppression of subordinate males appears to be behaviourally mediated, because males of all social ranks produce semen of similar quality, making them suitable candidates for sperm banking, particularly during the breeding season when sperm quality improves.

Item ID: 54218
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5990
Keywords: artificial insemination, behaviour, cortisol, testosterone, endocrinology, faeces, physiology, semen, sperm, testis, prostate, African wild dog, dominance, hierarchy, fertility
Copyright Information: Copyright © CSIRO 2019
Funders: Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), Roger Williams Park Zoo, Fresno Chaffee Zoo, James Cook University, Institute for Breeding of Rare and Endangered African Mammals (IBREAM)
Projects and Grants: MAF Grant no. D15ZO-053
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2019 01:59
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310903 Animal developmental and reproductive biology @ 60%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 20%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310909 Animal physiology - cell @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 40%
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