Title

Investigation of techniques to measure cortisol and testosterone concentrations in coyote hair

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Zoo Biology

Volume

36

Issue

3

Publisher

Wiley

Publication Date

2017

First Page

220

Last Page

225

DOI

10.1002/zoo.21359

Abstract

Long-term noninvasive sampling for endangered or elusive species is particularly difficult due to the challenge of collecting fecal samples before hormone metabolite desiccation, as well as the difficulty in collecting a large enough sample size from all individuals. Hair samples may provide an environmentally stable alternative that provides a long-term assessment of stress and reproductive hormone profiles for captive, zoo, and wild mammals. Here, we extracted and analyzed both cortisol and testosterone in coyote (Canis latrans) hair for the first time. We collected samples from 5-week old coyote pups (six female, six male) housed at the USDA-NWRC Predator Research Facility in Millville, UT. Each individual pup was shaved in six different locations to assess variation in concentrations by body region. We found that pup hair cortisol (F5,57.1 = 0.47, p = 0.80) and testosterone concentrations (F5,60 = 1.03, p = 0.41) did not differ as a function of body region. Male pups generally had higher cortisol concentrations than females (males = 17.71 ± 0.85 ng/g, females = 15.48 ± 0.24 ng/g; F1,57.0 = 5.06, p = 0.028). Comparatively, we did not find any differences between male and female testosterone concentrations (males = 2.86 ± 0.17 ng/g, females = 3.12 ± 0.21 ng/g; F1,60 = 1.42, p = 0.24). These techniques represent an attractive method in describing long-term stress and reproductive profiles of captive, zoo-housed, and wild mammal populations.