Periovulatory changes in behavior and fecal hormone metabolite concentrations but not vaginal cytology or vaginoscopy are indicative for the fertile period in female African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus)

Van den Berghe, Femke, Paris, Monique Christina Johanna, Sarnyai, Zoltan, Ganswindt, Andre, and Paris, Damien Boyd Bertrand Paul (2023) Periovulatory changes in behavior and fecal hormone metabolite concentrations but not vaginal cytology or vaginoscopy are indicative for the fertile period in female African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). Theriogenology Wild, 2. 100032.

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Artificial insemination (AI) can aid conservation of African wild dogs (AWD), but methods to determine the appropriate timing of AI in females are not feasible without immobilization. This study determined whether certain behaviors coupled with fecal estrogen (fEM) and progestogen (fPM) metabolite concentrations, could be used as non-invasive parameters to predict the fertile period in female AWDs. Behavior was observed in three alpha females before, during and after the mating period, and feces analyzed for hormone metabolites. During the periovulatory period, females were immobilized 2–3 times to evaluate vulvar condition, blood hormone concentrations and vaginal cytology, and to conduct vaginoscopy. Late estrus (fertile period) could be distinguished from pro-estrus, early estrus, and diestrus using behavior; with a 2- to 5-fold higher rate of male-female affiliative behavior, sexual and non-sexual follow, alpha male initiating behavior, ride-up and copulation (P ≤ 0.05). Sexual behaviors, and male-female resting patterns declined significantly or ceased the day after last mating. Two females showed a 2.5- to 3-fold increase in fPM concentrations during late estrus compared to the pro-estrus period (P ≤ 0.05) and elevated fEM levels that rose in pro-estrus, declined to baseline by late estrus. The one anovulatory female showed no distinct pattern in fPM or fEM concentrations. Vaginal cytology and vaginoscopy could not discriminate between different phases. In summary, behavioral observations coupled with rising fPM and declining fEM can determine the fertile period in African wild dog females, whereas infrequent measurement of blood hormone concentrations, vaginal cytology and vaginoscopy are unreliable.

Item ID: 54229
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2773-093X
Keywords: African wild dog; artificial insemination; oestrus; sexual behaviour; faecal oestrogen metabolites; fecal progesterone metabolites; fertile period; vaginal cytology, vaginoscopy
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Funders: Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), Roger Williams Park Zoo, Fresno Chaffe Zoo
Projects and Grants: Grant number: D15ZO-053, Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund, Wildlife Conservation Fund
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2023 05:35
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 20%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060803 Animal Developmental and Reproductive Biology @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 35%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences @ 35%
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