Identifying reproductive state of the Julia Creek dunnart Sminthopsis douglasi by behavioural observations

Bjursell, A. and Withers, K. and Senior, G. and Lundie-Jenkins, G. and Kennerley, P. (2005) Identifying reproductive state of the Julia Creek dunnart Sminthopsis douglasi by behavioural observations. In: 22nd Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry (ANZSCPB 2005), 09-11 Dec 2005, Dunedin, New Zealand.


The Julia Creek dunnart (Sminthopsis douglasi) is an endangered carnivorous marsupial. A recovery plan for the
species initiated by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service includes captive breeding. An important factor in
breeding S. douglasi is identification of oestrous. The current method of identifying oestrous consists of
examination of urine for the presence of cornified cells. To collect urine, the animals have to be removed from
their cages and restrained. This method may be stressful for the animals, as well as time consuming. The aim of this
study is to identify specific behaviour of S. douglasi associated with oestrous that can be readily observed without the need for handling the animal. This would provide a non-invasive way of identifying oestrous, which would facilitate breeding the species in captivity and designing conservation programs. Behaviour of S. douglasi was observed throughout their active period by video recording. The most striking result was the increase in activity of the female when she was in oestrous compared to non-oestrous. The most informative behaviour to observe was
entry of the female into the nest box and the frequency with which she enters the area closest to the wall (zone 3).
A Discriminant Function Analysis generated an equation which had an Over-all Predictive Power (OPP, the
probability of making an accurate identification of reproductive state) of 89%. This result was gained by watching two random five-minute epochs of activity. The equation was tested and verified with new individuals and attained a similar level of OPP.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Abstract 76. Conference publication consists of only the abstracts of papers presented at the conference.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 00:28
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2012 02:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: Julia Creek dunnart; reproduction; reproductive state
Fields of Research : 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0702 Animal Production > 070201 Animal Breeding
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management

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