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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 24(7)

Development and evaluation of electroejaculation techniques in the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)

T. Keeley A B F, M. Harris C, P. D. McGreevy A, D. Hudson C D and J. K. O’Brien A E

A Faculty of Veterinary Science, Gunn Building (B19), University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
B Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Obley Road, Dubbo, NSW 2830, Australia.
C School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Chemistry Building (C218), University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.
D Noah’s Ark Veterinary Services, Medowie Shopping Village Ferodale Rd, Medowie, NSW 2318, Australia.
E SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, 2595 Ingraham Street, San Diego, CA 92109, USA.
F Corresponding author. Email: zooreproduction@yahoo.com

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 24(7) 1008-1018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD12022
Submitted: 14 December 2010  Accepted: 30 January 2012   Published: 29 August 2012

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Electroejaculation (EEJ) has been used successfully to collect samples suitable for genome resource banking from a variety of endangered wildlife species. Ejaculates can also be used to evaluate the reproductive potential of individuals and provide information on seminal characteristics to aid in the development of sperm cryopreservation techniques. Electroejaculation techniques used for marsupial and eutherian species were tested on Tasmanian devils (n = 35). Spermic ejaculates were collected in 54% (19/35) of EEJ attempts. Spermic ejaculates were low in volume (3.9 ± 6.5 × 102 µL, range 10–3000 µL) and contained low numbers of spermatozoa (3.3 ± 7.8 × 103 spermatozoa per ejaculate, range 6–33 000). The osmolality and pH of presumptive urine-free ejaculates were 389 ± 130 mOsm kg–1 (range 102–566) and 7.0 ± 0.9 (range 6.0–8.0), respectively. Prostatic bodies were observed in 79% (26/33) of ejaculates. Episodic fluctuations in serum testosterone concentrations were not detected during the EEJ procedure (P > 0.05). Increases observed in serum cortisol concentrations during EEJ were less (P < 0.05) than those observed after an adrenalcorticotropic hormone challenge and diurnal variation suggested that cortisol concentrations are greater during the day than at night (P < 0.05). This information can be used to provide range values for the future examination of basic endocrine responses and the adrenal–pituitary axis of this species. This study also demonstrated that spermatozoa-rich devil electroejaculates are more difficult to obtain and poorer in quality than those of other marsupials.

Additional keywords: dasyurid, marsupial, semen collection, spermatozoa.


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