Longitudinal monitoring of plasma and fecal androgens in the Tasmanian devil (
Sarcophilus harrisii) and the spotted tailed quoll ( Dasyurus maculatus)
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Hesterman, H and Jones, SM, Longitudinal monitoring of plasma and fecal androgens in the Tasmanian devil (
Sarcophilus harrisii) and the spotted tailed quoll ( Dasyurus maculatus), Animal Reproduction Science, 112, (3-4) pp. 334-346. ISSN 0378-4320 (2009) [Refereed Article]
Improved knowledge of the breeding biology of carnivorous marsupials is warranted given their heightened conservation status. Past studies have focused on smaller dasyurids and little is known of male reproductive physiology in the larger species. This study aimed to characterize the pattern of androgen concentrations in male devils and spotted-tailed quolls and to evaluate fecal steroid measurement as a practical, alternative technique for monitoring reproductive activity. Blood and fecal samples were collected from captive adult devils (n = 6) and adult quolls (n = 8). Plasma and fecal androgen concentrations were significantly positively correlated. In both species there was a significant effect of season on androgen concentrations; and the annual increase preceded female estrus activity. For devils, fecal androgens were elevated during the austral summer: peak concentrations were observed in January-February, and copulation occurred from late February-late May. In quolls, fecal androgen concentrations were highest during austral autumn/winter: the annual increase began in April and copulation occurred from mid-May to early October. The lengthy period of elevated plasma and fecal androgens and protracted annual period of mating activity implies a period of extended spermatogenesis in both species. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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