Studies of male reproduction in captive African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus)

S D Johnston, D Ward, J Lemon, Ian M Gunn, C A MacCallum, T Keeley, David Blyde

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Implementation of assisted breeding in the captive African wild dog is restricted by a current lack of knowledge on their reproductive physiology and the apparent difficulty of effectively manipulating the complex social dynamic of the pack in order to conduct reproductive procedures. In this study, we describe protocols for the safe and repeated capture and restraint of the African wild dog (n=7) as well as techniques for assessment of male reproductive function, semen collection and preservation. In a serendipitous finding, captive African wild dogs appeared to display significant seasonal change in male reproduction. Testicular volume and tone, spermatorrhea and the ability to collect semen by electroejaculation all increased significantly during late summer and then subsequently declined by early spring. While there were no detectable seasonal changes in testosterone concentration in the population as whole, the alpha-dominant male in both years of the study, had a highly elevated testosterone concentration compared to subordinate males. Semen collection by electroejaculation during the late summer was most effective in peri-pubertal males (15 months) when all seven electroejaculates were of adequate quality for cryopreservation. In the second breeding season (27 months), there were numerous changes in the pack hierarchy and electroejaculation was not as successful (3/7). The characteristics of electroejaculated semen collected in the breeding season are described for seven animals including the first descriptions and incidence of sperm abnormalities in the species. Semen (n=7) was frozen using a Tris-citrate fructose buffer and final egg yolk and glycerol concentration of 20 and 4 , respectively. Sperm were loaded into 0.25 mL straws, frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor and then thawed at 37 degrees C. Initial post-thaw survival of spermatozoa was encouraging ( motile: 31.8+/-5.8 ; rate: 2.8+/-0.3; intact plasma membranes: 33.4+/-5.3 and the of damaged acrosomes: 4.4+/-1.5 ) but following 2 h incubation at 37 degrees C, post-thaw survival declined markedly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338 - 355
Number of pages18
JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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