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Zoo biology [journal]
- Serum and hepatic vitamin A levels in captive and wild marine toads (Bufo marinus). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 17.
The captive breeding program for the endangered Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne [Bufo] lemur) has been hampered by an undiagnosed condition called "Brown Skin Disease" (BSD). Toads develop widespread skin darkening, skin thickening and abnormal shedding and eventually succumb to a chronic loss of viability. This project evaluated the marine toad (Bufo marinus) as a model for the PRCT, examining vitamin A deficiency as a potential cause of BSD. Wild caught marine toads had significantly higher liver vitamin A concentrations (61.89 ± 63.49 µg/g) than captive born marine toads (0.58 ± 0.59 µg/g); P < 0.001). A significant difference in serum vitamin A concentration was found between the captive and wild caught toads (P = 0.013) and between the low vitamin A-fed and wild caught toads (P = 0.004), when controlling for liver vitamin A concentrations. After captive toads were treated with topical and/or oral vitamin A, their hepatic vitamin A concentrations were similar to those of the wild toads, averaging 48.41 ± 37.03 µg/g. However, plasma vitamin A concentrations pre- and post-vitamin A supplementation did not differ statistically. We concluded that plasma vitamin A concentrations do not provide a linear indication of liver/body vitamin A status, and that both topical and oral supplementation with an oil-based vitamin A formulation can increase liver stores in amphibians. No evidence of BSD or other signs of deficiency were noted in the marine toads, although this feeding trial was relatively short (127 days). To date, clinical, pathological and research findings do not support vitamin A deficiency as a primary factor underlying BSD. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Non-invasive urine collection in the female southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) with the aid of classical conditioning. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 8.
We propose that regular urine samples can be used to monitor and characterize the reproductive cycle of the wombat, but this approach has never before been attempted in a marsupial. We conducted a three stage conditioning process for non-invasive urine collection in captive female wombats, which included (1) initial habituation and observation of urination patterns; (2) classical association of a stimulus with urination and (3) urine collection with the classically-conditioned stimulus. Four of the five female wombats selected for this trial were successfully conditioned for urine collection. During stage 2, the animals urinated in response to tactile stimulation 96 times from 208 attempts (46%). In stage 3, urine was successfully collected 399 times from 485 attempts (82%), with the majority of samples being collected in the morning (280/388). Hand-raised females that were previously conditioned for toileting purposes as pouch young responded more rapidly to the stimulus than juvenile females with no prior conditioning. This study is the first description of a successful method of urine collection by classical conditioning in a marsupial. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Suckling behavior in Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx L.) cubs: Characteristics and correlation with competitive interactions. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 3.
There is substantial evidence in the literature that the offspring of many mammal species prefer a particular pair of nipples. There is also a definite "nipple order" in individual litters in which each young predominantly uses one or two particular nipples. In combination with early competitive interactions, such "constancy" can play an important role in the social development of the young. In this study, we reveal an unequal use of different pairs of mothers' nipples by 42 Eurasian lynx cubs in 16 litters and investigate the relationship of this phenomenon with the early competitive interactions of the cubs and their physical development. For the lynx cubs, the most often used pair of nipples is the middle pair. There is also definite "nipple order" in each litter. We found a negative correlation between nipples use by the offspring and their competitive activity. No influence of "nipple order" on the cubs' growth rate was detected. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals Inc.
- Defining management units for European captive aardvarks. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 3.
The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a very unique, but relatively widespread African mammal. Although some morphological variation has been observed between forest and savannah populations and among different African regions, they are all considered as a single species. However, no modern taxonomic revision is available. All captive aardvarks in Europe are believed to stem from wild born animals from Namibia, but recently several new wild-caught aardvarks from Tanzania have been integrated into the captive population. This raises the question, whether these specimens should be interbred with the existing captive population or whether there is a risk of outbreeding depression. We studied the genetic structure of the captive populations by sequencing two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b and 16S rRNA) to assess the degree of genetic differentiation between the two source regions. Our data suggest that the aardvarks kept in European zoos belong to the same phylogenetic (mitochondrial) lineage as the differentiation in the two studied mitochondrial markers was extremely low. A more comprehensive analysis of a larger sample with well documented origin (covering the complete geographic range) and with more sensitive genetic markers is needed to infer any final conclusions concerning the aardvark's taxonomy and identification of suitable aardvark management units. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- The effect of supplementation with vitamin A on serum and liver concentrations in Puerto Rican crested toads (Peltophryne lemur) and its lack of impact on brown skin disease. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 2.
"Brown skin disease" (BSD) is a clinical syndrome of dysecdysis, chronic weight loss and death, previously reported in Puerto Rican crested toads (Peltophryne lemur). Although vitamin A deficiency has been suggested, its cause remains unknown and multiple treatments have failed to prevent or reverse the condition. This study compared the efficacy of vitamin A supplementation, administered in different forms and by different routes, in 48 captive born Puerto Rican crested toads fed from metamorphosis on gut-loaded, dusted, commercially raised crickets. Forty-five toads started to show clinical signs of BSD at 9 months of age; all toads were treated orally with an oil-based vitamin A formulation twice weekly for 2 months but continued to deteriorate. Two treatment groups were then compared: Animals in one group (n = 19) received 2 IU injectable vitamin A (Aquasol-A) per gram bodyweight subcutaneously twice weekly for 3 months with no change in diet. Toads in the other group (n = 22) received a single oral dose of vitamins A, D3 , and E, and were fed on earthworms and crickets gut-loaded with produce and a finely-ground alfalfa-based pellet, dusted with the same vitamin/mineral supplement. All affected animals developed severe BSD equally and died during, or were euthanized at the end of, the treatment regimen, with no clinical improvement. Animals supplemented with Aquasol-A had significantly higher liver vitamin A concentrations compared with the other treatment group, whereas serum retinol concentrations showed no significant difference. Vitamin A supplementation does not appear a successful treatment once BSD symptoms have developed. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Activity patterns and fine-scale resource partitioning in the gregarious Kihansi spray toad Nectophrynoides asperginis in captivity. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 2.
Understanding the behavior of species threatened with extinction is important for conservation planning and for solving problems facing species in captivity and the wild. We examined diurnal activity budgets and habitat use of the extinct in the wild Kihansi spray toad to provide insights into ongoing conservation initiatives for this species. Observations on eight target behaviors were made each morning and evening for 14 days, in two subpopulations at Kihansi and University of Dar es Salaam captive breeding centers. There were significantly more bouts of resting than calling, amplexing, hunting, walking, climbing, or feeding. There was no difference in mean time spent in each activity between the two subpopulations. The use of habitat was variable between age classes, subpopulations and sampling time. Young toads spent significantly more time resting at the top of vegetation and on walls while adults rested more on logs. Further, adults foraged more on the walls and vegetation in the morning and on the ground in the evening. Contrastingly, young toads foraged more on the ground in the morning and switched to elevated patches during evening. The similarity of the toads' behavior suggests that important biological traits are still maintained in captivity and retained across toad generations. Furthermore, temporal and spatial variations in the use of habitat structures between age groups suggest fine-scale resource partitioning to reduce competition in this gregarious species. These results highlight the importance of maintaining diverse habitat structures in captivity and are useful for planning species reintroduction and future restocking programs. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Influence of breeding season on fecal glucocorticoid levels in captive Greater Rhea (Rhea americana). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 2.
Sex hormones and stress-related changes can be seasonally influenced. We investigate whether fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) levels can differ between male and female captive Greater Rheas during the breeding and non-breeding seasons. Over a 3-year-period, fresh fecal samples from 10 individuals (five of each sex) were collected during the breeding months (October, November, and December) and non-breeding months (April and June). A total of 960 samples were assayed using a commercial radioimmunoassay. Results showed that FGM levels (mean ± SE) were affected by the breeding season in a sex-dependent way. Male Greater Rheas showed significantly higher FGM levels in the breeding months than in the non-breeding months (13.44 ± 0.37 vs. 7.92 ± 0.1 ng/g feces, respectively). By contrast, females did not show FGM seasonal changes throughout the same sampling periods (7.55 ± 0.14 vs. 7.26 ± 0.73 ng/g feces). Moreover, during the breeding season months, males showed higher average FGM levels than females (13.44 ± 0.37 vs. 7.55 ± 0.14 ng/g feces, respectively), and no differences were found between sexes during the non-breeding season (7.92 ± 0.1 vs. 7.26 ± 0.73 ng/g feces, respectively). Our findings suggest that male Greater Rheas have a higher adrenocortical activity during the breeding season, which is probably indirectly related to the increased testosterone levels and agonist interactions that are also observed during that phase. Studies aimed to determine the appropriate sex ratio for captive rearing should be developed to minimize male agonist encounters and therefore improve welfare of the captive group. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Tadpole nutritional ecology and digestive physiology: Implications for captive rearing of larval anurans. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Sep 2.
The adaptive tadpole stage allows anurans to exploit food resources in two vastly different environments, and the transition from aquatic larvae to terrestrial carnivores is both dramatic and complex. As seen in many other members of the freshwater aquatic community, the nutritional requirements and characteristic feeding strategies of anuran larvae (tadpoles) are extremely diverse, ranging from herbivory to carnivory and including predation and cannibalism, oophagy, coprophagy, filter-feeding, and hindgut microbial fermentation. Whereas tadpoles as a group are commonly considered herbivorous or omnivorous, many are specialists; understanding species-specific dietary habits is critical for captive rearing projects in zoos and amphibian habitat conservation efforts. Practical applications of this review also encompass studies of amphibian declines, herpetoculture, ecology and evolution, and comparative gastrointestinal morphology and physiology. Zoo Biol. XX:1-6, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Paternity testing using microsatellite DNA markers in captive Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Aug 26.
We investigated the paternity of 39 Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) hatched at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium between 1995 and 2005 breeding seasons using microsatellite DNA markers. Among the 13 microsatellite marker loci tested in this study, eight markers amplified and were found to be polymorphic in the colony's founders of the captive population (n = 26). Multiple marker analysis confirmed that all the hatchlings shared alleles with their social fathers and that none of them were sired by any male (all males ≥4 years old in the exhibit tank during each reproductive season; n = 9-15) other than the one carrying out parental duties, except in the case of two inbred hatchlings whose half-sibling parents shared the same father. These results demonstrated that extra-pair paternity (EPP) did not occur in this captive population and that even if EPP has been detected among them, the probability of excluding all other possible fathers in the exhibit tank is extremely high based on paternity exclusion probabilities across the investigated loci. The paternity exclusion probabilities were almost the same between 1994 and 2005. The probability of identity across the investigated loci declined between the two time points, but was still high. These results are reflected in a very short history of breeding in this captive population. In other words, the parentage analyses using a suite of microsatellite markers will be less effective as generations change in small closed populations, such as zoo and aquarium populations. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Pathologic changes associated with suspected hypovitaminosis A in amphibians under managed care. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Zoo Biol 2014 Aug 19.
Vitamin A deficiency is a recently recognized nutritional disease in amphibians fed insect-based diets. The classic pathologic lesion that has been associated with hypovitaminosis A in amphibians is squamous metaplasia of the lingual and oral mucosa. In an attempt to further characterize the range of lesions that may be associated with vitamin A deficiency, we reviewed archived amphibian necropsy reports from three facilities. As previously reported, the tongue was the most commonly affected site in animals presenting with squamous metaplasia. However, metaplastic changes were also observed in a variety of locations that included the oral cavity, nasal cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, cloaca, skin, urinary bladder, ureter, and reproductive tract. In addition, species and age-specific differences were noted in the development of squamous metaplasia. This review highlights the need to establish standardized guidelines for optimal postmortem tissue sampling of amphibians in order to maximize the accurate diagnosis of pathologic lesions that may be associated with hypovitaminosis A. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals Inc.