Physiologically persistent Corpora lutea in Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) - longitudinal ultrasound and endocrine examinations intra-vitam.
ABSTRACT: Felids generally follow a poly-estrous reproductive strategy. Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) display a different pattern of reproductive cyclicity where physiologically persistent corpora lutea (CLs) induce a mono-estrous condition which results in highly seasonal reproduction. The present study was based around a sono-morphological and endocrine study of captive Eurasian lynx, and a control-study on free-ranging lynx. We verified that CLs persist after pregnancy and pseudo-pregnancy for at least a two-year period. We could show that lynx are able to enter estrus in the following year, while CLs from the previous years persisted in structure and only temporarily reduced their function for the period of estrus onset or birth, which is unique among felids. The almost constant luteal progesterone secretion (average of 5 ng/ml serum) seems to prevent folliculogenesis outside the breeding season and has converted a poly-estrous general felid cycle into a mono-estrous cycle specific for lynx. The hormonal regulation mechanism which causes lynx to have the longest CL lifespan amongst mammals remains unclear. The described non-felid like ovarian physiology appears to be a remarkably non-plastic system. The lynx's reproductive ability to adapt to environmental and anthropogenic changes needs further investigation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In the past few years the interest of the scientific community on lungworms of the genus Troglostrongylus has grown due to the increased number of unexpected cases of infections with Troglostrongylus brevior in domestic cats from Mediterranean Europe, likely due to a spill-over from wild reservoirs. Thus, there is a merit to increase our knowledge on the occurrence of this parasite in felids from European regions. The present paper describes lung lesions associated with T. brevior infection in the endangered Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) from Bosnia and Herzegovina. FINDINGS:The carcass of an illegally killed 3-year-old male Eurasian lynx was presented for necropsy at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Grossly, multiple, multinodular, consolidated and firm, tan to grey areas, occupying the caudal third of caudal lung lobes, were observed. At cut section, the catarrhal fluid was draining from the airways. Larvae of T. brevior were found in tracheal scraping. The histopathological examination revealed multifocal to coalescing areas, centered on bronchi and bronchioles, and expanded alveoli filled with necrotic debris, degenerated inflammatory cells, mostly neutrophils and macrophages, and multiple cross sections of parasite larvae and thin-walled morulated eggs of lungworms. The paraffin-embedded lung samples were molecularly positive for T. brevior. CONCLUSION:This paper describes the first record of T. brevior in the Eurasian lynx and the associated host lung pathology. Given its pathogenic potential and the lack of data on troglostrongylosis in lynx populations, the occurrence and impact of Troglostrongylus spp. on wildlife health as well as the role of L. lynx as reservoir of infection for other felids, should be further investigated.
Project description:While hemoplasma infections in domestic cats are well studied, almost no information is available on their occurrence in wild felids. The aims of the present study were to investigate wild felid species as possible reservoirs of feline hemoplasmas and the molecular characterization of the hemoplasma isolates. Blood samples from the following 257 wild felids were analyzed: 35 Iberian lynxes from Spain, 36 Eurasian lynxes from Switzerland, 31 European wildcats from France, 45 lions from Tanzania, and 110 Brazilian wild felids, including 12 wild felid species kept in zoos and one free-ranging ocelot. Using real-time PCR, feline hemoplasmas were detected in samples of the following species: Iberian lynx, Eurasian lynx, European wildcat, lion, puma, oncilla, Geoffroy's cat, margay, and ocelot. "Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum" was the most common feline hemoplasma in Iberian lynxes, Eurasian lynxes, Serengeti lions, and Brazilian wild felids, whereas "Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis" was the most prevalent in European wildcats; hemoplasma coinfections were frequently observed. Hemoplasma infection was associated with species and free-ranging status of the felids in all animals and with feline leukemia virus provirus-positive status in European wildcats. Phylogenetic analyses of the 16S rRNA and the partial RNase P gene revealed that most hemoplasma isolates exhibit high sequence identities to domestic cat-derived isolates, although some isolates form different subclusters within the phylogenetic tree. In conclusion, 9 out of 15 wild felid species from three different continents were found to be infected with feline hemoplasmas. The effect of feline hemoplasma infections on wild felid populations needs to be further investigated.
Project description:Over the last decades the phylogeography and genetic structure of a multitude of species inhabiting Europe and North America have been described. The flora and fauna of the vast landmasses of north-eastern Eurasia are still largely unexplored in this respect. The Eurasian lynx is a large felid that is relatively abundant over much of the Russian sub-continent and the adjoining countries. Analyzing 148 museum specimens collected throughout its range over the last 150 years we have described the large-scale genetic structuring in this highly mobile species. We have investigated the spatial genetic patterns using mitochondrial DNA sequences (D-loop and cytochrome b) and 11 microsatellite loci, and describe three phylogenetic clades and a clear structuring along an east-west gradient. The most likely scenario is that the contemporary Eurasian lynx populations originated in central Asia and that parts of Europe were inhabited by lynx during the Pleistocene. After the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) range expansions lead to colonization of north-western Siberia and Scandinavia from the Caucasus and north-eastern Siberia from a refugium further east. No evidence of a Berinigan refugium could be detected in our data. We observed restricted gene flow and suggest that future studies of the Eurasian lynx explore to what extent the contemporary population structure may be explained by ecological variables.
Project description:Non-invasive monitoring of wild felid reproductive states is important, given that many species reproduce poorly in captivity. Despite extensive work in faecal hormone analysis in felids, continued development of techniques is necessary, particularly with wild populations. In this study, our aims were as follows: (i)?biochemical validation of enzyme immunoassays for estrogen, testosterone and progesterone in Canada lynx and domestic cat hair extracts; (ii)?assessment of the use of hair reproductive hormones to differentiate between reproductive states (intact, estrus, pregnant and spayed/neutered), using domestic cats as a model; and (iii)?assessment of the use of hair reproductive hormones to differentiate between age and sex, accounting for potential regional variability in wild lynx populations. Analysis of hair hormone levels showed prospective value in detecting pregnancy states, with pregnant domestic cats having higher levels of progesterone than spayed females. However, intact and pregnant cats did not differ in progesterone levels. Yet, two female domestic cats had higher levels of hair progesterone following a 38-day oral progestin treatment, perhaps providing a preliminary pharmacological validation of the method. Estrogen and testosterone did not differ statistically according to reproductive states of domestic cats, although intact males had higher levels of hair testosterone than neutered males. When we applied these techniques to lynx fur, we determined that hormone levels were not sufficiently precise to differentiate age classes. Hair reproductive hormone ratios differed between sexes, with the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio demonstrating the highest accuracy in differentiating males from females. Hair hormone levels differed regionally for wild lynx, indicating that spatial variability should be a consideration in wildlife hormone studies spanning large spatial scales. We conclude that use of hair hormone analysis by enzyme immunoassay may hold promise for differentiating sex in felids, but the technique will require further refinement and validation before it can be applied broadly and reliably.
Project description:Intraspecific variation in key traits of widespread species can be hard to predict, if populations have been very little studied in most of the distribution range. Asian populations of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), one of the most widespread felids worldwide, are such a case in point. We investigated the diet of Eurasian lynx from feces collected Mediterranean, mixed forest-steppe, and subalpine ecosystems of Turkey. We studied prey preferences and functional responses using prey densities obtained from Random Encounter Modelling. Our analysis revealed that the main prey was brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in all three areas (78%-99% of biomass consumed) and lynx showed a strong preference for brown hare (Chesson's selectivity index, ? = 0.90-0.99). Cannibalism contributed at least 5% in two study areas. The type II functional response of lynx populations in Turkey was similar to the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) and daily food intake in grams per lynx matched that of Canada lynx and Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), both lagomorph specialists, rather than those of Eurasian lynx from Europe. Therefore, lynx in Turkey may be better described as a lagomorph specialist even though it coexists with ungulate prey. We suggest that ungulate-based foraging ecology of Eurasian lynx in Europe may be a recent adjustment to the availability of high densities of ungulates and cannot be representative for other regions like Turkey. The status of lagomorphs should become an essential component of conservation activities targeted at Eurasian lynx or when using this species as a flagship species for landscape preservation.
Project description:A free-ranging lynx (Lynx lynx) was shot because of its abnormal behavior. Histopathological examination revealed a nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis. In situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and reverse transcriptase PCR analysis showed the presence of Borna disease virus infection in the brain. To our knowledge, this is the first confirmed case of Borna disease in a large felid.
Project description:The corpus luteum (CL) is a transient gland formed in the ovary after ovulation and is the major source of progesterone. In the Iberian and Eurasian lynx, CL physiologically persist after parturition and retain their capacity to produce progesterone, thus suppressing the ovarian activity. This unique reproductive characteristic has a big impact on the success of assisted reproduction techniques in the endangered Iberian lynx. The mechanisms behind CL persistence are not yet understood and require extensive studies on potential luteotropic and luteolytic factors in felids. Because the apoptosis system has been shown to be involved in structural regression of CL in many species, we aimed to investigate the capacity of perCL to undergo apoptosis. In addition, we performed initial studies on the apoptosis system in the luteal phase of the domestic cat. No previous research on this system has been made in this species. Our factors of interest included agents of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway, i.e., pro-survival B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2 (BCL2) and pro-apoptotic BCL2-associated X protein (BAX), the executioner caspase-3 (CASP3), as well as of the extrinsic pathway, i.e., pro-apoptotic receptor FAS, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and its receptors (pro-apoptotic TNFRSF1A and pro-survival TNFRSF1B). We analyzed the relative mRNA levels of these factors, as well as protein localization of CASP3 and TNF during stages of pregnancy and the non-pregnant luteal phase in CL of domestic cats. The same factors were investigated in freshly ovulated CL (frCL) and perCL of Iberian and Eurasian lynx, which were histologically analyzed. All factors were present in the CL tissue of both domestic cat and lynx throughout all analyzed stages. The presence of pro-apoptotic factors BAX, CASP3, FAS and TNFRSF1A in perCL of the Eurasian and Iberian lynx might indicate the potential sensitivity of perCL to apoptotic signals. The expression of pro-survival factors BCL2 and TNFRSF1B was significantly higher in perCL compared to frCL of studied Iberian lynx, suggesting the potential involvement of these factors in the structural integrity of perCL. In both Iberian lynx and pregnant and non-pregnant domestic cats, the expression of TNFRSF1A was significantly higher in forming CL compared to other stages, suggesting the conserved involvement of this factor in the tissue reorganization during formation of the feline CL. The mRNA levels of CASP3 and TNFRSF1B were highest during regression stages of domestic cat CL. The current study provides initial results on the possible involvement of the apoptosis system in the structure and function of the feline CL and in its physiological persistence.
Project description:Gammaherpesviruses (GHVs) infect many animal species and are associated with lymphoproliferative disorders in some. Previously, we identified several novel GHVs in North American felids; however, a GHV had never been identified in Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). We, therefore, hypothesized the existence of an unidentified GHV in lynx. Using degenerate nested and subsequently virus-specific PCR, we amplified and sequenced 3.4 kb of DNA from a novel GHV in lynx, which we named Lynx canadensis gammaherpesvirus 1 (LcaGHV1). Phylogenetic analysis determined that LcaGHV1 is a distinct GHV species belonging to the genus Percavirus. We then estimated the prevalence of LcaGHV1 in lynx by developing a PCR-based assay and detected LcaGHV1 DNA in 36% (95% CI: 22-53%) of lynx spleen DNA samples from Maine, USA and 17% (95% CI: 8-31%) from Newfoundland, Canada. The LcaGHV1 DNA sequences from Maine and Newfoundland lynx were nearly identical to each other (two nucleotide substitutions in 3.4 kb), suggesting that the unique lynx subspecies present on the island of Newfoundland (Lynx canadensis subsolanus) is infected with virus that very closely resembles virus found in mainland lynx. The potential ecologic and pathologic consequences of this novel virus for Canada lynx populations warrant further study.
Project description:The greatest threat to the protected Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Central Europe is human-induced mortality. As the availability of lynx prey often peaks in human-modified areas, lynx have to balance successful prey hunting with the risk of encounters with humans. We hypothesized that lynx minimize this risk by adjusting habitat choices to the phases of the day and over seasons. We predicted that (1) due to avoidance of human-dominated areas during daytime, lynx range use is higher at nighttime, that (2) prey availability drives lynx habitat selection at night, whereas high cover, terrain inaccessibility, and distance to human infrastructure drive habitat selection during the day, and that (3) habitat selection also differs between seasons, with altitude being a dominant factor in winter. To test these hypotheses, we analyzed telemetry data (GPS, VHF) of 10 lynx in the Bohemian Forest Ecosystem (Germany, Czech Republic) between 2005 and 2013 using generalized additive mixed models and considering various predictor variables. Night ranges exceeded day ranges by more than 10%. At night, lynx selected open habitats, such as meadows, which are associated with high ungulate abundance. By contrast, during the day, lynx selected habitats offering dense understorey cover and rugged terrain away from human infrastructure. In summer, land-cover type greatly shaped lynx habitats, whereas in winter, lynx selected lower altitudes. We concluded that open habitats need to be considered for more realistic habitat models and contribute to future management and conservation (habitat suitability, carrying capacity) of Eurasian lynx in Central Europe.
Project description:Genomic studies of endangered species provide insights into their evolution and demographic history, reveal patterns of genomic erosion that might limit their viability, and offer tools for their effective conservation. The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is the most endangered felid and a unique example of a species on the brink of extinction.We generate the first annotated draft of the Iberian lynx genome and carry out genome-based analyses of lynx demography, evolution, and population genetics. We identify a series of severe population bottlenecks in the history of the Iberian lynx that predate its known demographic decline during the 20th century and have greatly impacted its genome evolution. We observe drastically reduced rates of weak-to-strong substitutions associated with GC-biased gene conversion and increased rates of fixation of transposable elements. We also find multiple signatures of genetic erosion in the two remnant Iberian lynx populations, including a high frequency of potentially deleterious variants and substitutions, as well as the lowest genome-wide genetic diversity reported so far in any species.The genomic features observed in the Iberian lynx genome may hamper short- and long-term viability through reduced fitness and adaptive potential. The knowledge and resources developed in this study will boost the research on felid evolution and conservation genomics and will benefit the ongoing conservation and management of this emblematic species.