Quantification of Sexual Steroid Hormones in Faeces of Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus): A Non-invasive Sex Typing Method


Author’s address (for correspondence): Juan Carlos Illera, Departamento de Fisiología (Fisiologia Animal), Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, 28040 España. E-mail: jcillera@vet.ucm.es


The determination of gender in wild animals is essential for behavioural and ecological studies, and also for conservation. The objectives of this study were (i) the determination of gender in faecal samples of Iberian wolf based on the differential concentrations of sexual steroid hormones (SSH) and (ii) to analyse the profiles of SSH in males and females (considering the gender determination carried out previously) during the non-reproductive and reproductive periods. The quantification of androgens (testosterone, T), progestin (progesterone, P) and oestrogen (oestradiol, E) was conducted by means of enzyme immunoassay. The k-means conglomerate analysis showed that the 59 faecal samples grouped into three different conglomerates, considering SSH levels. Groups 1 and 2 showed higher levels of T than group 3. Therefore, the faecal samples included in groups 1 and 2 (17 samples) corresponded to males and those of group 3 (42 samples) to females. The levels of T + P + E and T/P were higher in the group of males than in the group of females. The results of this study also showed that levels of T in males were higher during the reproductive period than in the non-reproductive period. However, the concentrations of P and E turned out to be higher during the non-reproductive season. In females, the levels of the three hormones (T, P and E) were higher during the reproductive period.