BIOLOGY OF THE FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE TRACT
7:30 AM-10:00 AM
(567) BASIC REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY OF THE FISHING CAT (Prionailurus viverrinus).
Moreland, Rachel1, Brown, Janine1, Wildt, David1, Howard, JoGayle1, 1 Conservation & Research Center, Front Royal, VA
ABSTRACT- The fishing cat is a small (6-7 kg) felid distributed throughout the wetlands of Southeast Asia that preys on fish. The North American ex situ population (~100 animals in 26 institutions) is not self-sustaining due to low genetic diversity (inbreeding). Because limited information exists, our objective was to characterize the fundamental reproductive enodcrinology of the male and female fishing cat using fecal hormone monitoring. In this study, we focused on: 1) steroid hormone patterns, specifically estradiol (E) and progesterone (P) in females and testosterone (T) in males; 2) the potential of seasonality; and 3) ovulation type (induced vs. spontaneous). Twelve animals (5 males, 7 females) on natural photoperiod from 7 North American zoos were evaluated. Fecal samples (collected 5-7 times/week for 12-14 months) were analyzed for E, P and T metabolites by RIA. Reproductive hormone patterns within male and female fishing cats cohorts were similar (P> 0.05) among seasons. Mean (± SEM) T concentrations for males were 25.4 ± 2.7 ng/g feces (range, 17.4 - 32.9 ng/g feces). Periodic E peaks in females (688.8 ± 98.7 ng/g feces; range, 281.5 - 1,010.0 ng/g feces) rose above a baseline (99.4 ± 16.5 ng/g; range, 31.0 - 163.5 ng/g feces) indicative of cyclicity. Mean duration of the estrous cycle was 23.6 ± 1.6 d (range, 21.5 - 24.6 d), whereas estrus averaged 2.9 ± 0.3 d (range, 2.1 - 4.4 d). Six of seven females (85.7%) housed alone or with other females demonstrated luteal activity (2.3 ± 0.5 luteal phases/cat; 1 to 4/cat) and elevated P concentrations of 33.5 ± 3.3 ug/g feces (range, 3.5 - 144.5 ug/g feces) above a P baseline of 4.6 ± 0.8 ug/g feces (range, 1.9 - 8.1 ug/g feces) and following an E peak. Mean duration of these non-pregnant luteal phases was 20.8 ± 2.8 d. Results indicate that : 1) the Southeast Asian fishing cat exposed to natural photoperiods in North America is reproductively active year-round; and 2) a high proportion of fishing cats demonstrate spontaneous ovulation.
KEY WORDS: Fecal hormones, Felid, Seasonality