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Study of hair steroid hormones as an assessment tool of chronic stress and long-term reproductive parameters in Mazama americana

Grant number: 16/12521-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2017
Effective date (End): January 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Veterinary Medicine - Animal Reproduction
Principal researcher:José Maurício Barbanti Duarte
Grantee:Mar Roldán Romero
Home Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Agrárias e Veterinárias (FCAV). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Jaboticabal. Jaboticabal , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Habitat loss and poaching are causing the rapid decline in wild deer populations in South America making ex-situ conservation of many species increasingly important for maintaining a genetically diverse wild population. The captive environment itself is stressful and may have negative effects on the animal´s health and reproductive abilities making monitoring and understanding the physiological effects of captivity on the animals important. Hair steroid values are being used as a biomarker of chronic stress and long-term reproductive parameters in wildlife endocrinology, though factors that influence the concentration of hormones in hair need to be explored further. There are presently no publications exploring hair hormones in neotropical deer species. Therefore, we hope to establish and evaluate a new steroid analysis methodology on hair using the species Mazama Americana (whose conservation status is uncertain), to investigate possible correlations between hormone concentrations specifically glucocorticoid levels and reproductive hormones metabolites in faeces (average of hair growth period). In this study, we will evaluate hair hormone concentrations from three different body regions of six male and six female red brocket deer. We will control for sex, temperament (calmest to most stressed), and female reproductive status (pregnant, cycling or anestrus). We will shave hair samples from the neck, shoulder blade and thigh upon arrival and save the hair for future comparison. We will collect faecal sample for 60 days and we will then collect hair from the same body regions for hormone analysis and comparison. We will then check for correlations between the average faecal metabolites values and hair hormone values from the three different body regions. With these results, we hope to generate a new methodology for evaluating welfare and reproductive physiology in deer maintained in captivity, which will be used for ex-situ conservation of these animals, as well as in wild populations of this and other neotropical deer species. (AU)

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