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Monitoring wild fauna fertility non-invasively

  • G. Caplen (a1) (a2) (a3), T.T. Mottram (a1), A. Pickard (a2) and S. Milligan (a3)


Scientists have long known that certain pesticides, industrial chemicals and heavy metals have a detrimental impact on the reproductive health of a wide range of species (including humans) by disrupting the endocrine system. As exposure to, and the effects of, ‘endocrine disrupters’ are likely to be more pronounced in wild species with a short gestation period and life-cycle we have chosen to develop non-invasive tools based upon faecal steroid analysis to monitor the reproductive status of the short-tailed field vole (Microtus agrestis). This approach is hoped to eventually provide a sensitive means of detecting environmental disturbances that could adversely affect humans, livestock and wildlife by establishing the the field vole as a terrestrial biomarker. Faecal steroid hormone analysis has already been demonstrated as being a convenient and reliable means of diagnosing reproductive state in a large range of mammalian species (including gazelle, rhino, macaque and mice), however, as of yet little is known regarding the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy in M. agrestis.



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Hindle, J.E., Möstl, E. and Hodges, J.K., 1992. ‘Measurement of urinary oestrogens and 20adihydroprogesterone during ovarian cycles of black (Diceros bicornis) and white (Ceratotherium simum) rhinoceroses’. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility, 94: 237249.
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BSAP Occasional Publication
  • ISSN: 0263-967X
  • EISSN: 2053-5953
  • URL: /core/journals/bsap-occasional-publication
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