Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mating success for the European Mink – Scientists optimize breeding management

22.09.2015

The European mink is critically endangered throughout its range. Several reintroduction programmes are in place to help assure the survival of the species. One of these is currently underway in Estonia, where researchers from the Vetmeduni Vienna closely studied the reproductive cycle of female animals. Analysing hormones in faecal samples, the scientists confirmed for the first time that females are able to conceive three to four times a year. The results, published in the journal Theriogenology, should assist efforts to reintroduce the animals in the wild.

The European mink (Mustela lutreola) is one of the most endangered mammals in Europe. The reasons for its decline are the destruction of its habitat in riparian areas, competition with the alien American mink and historically, extensive hunting.


European Mink

Tiit Maran

The European mink is often confused with the American mink (Neovison vison, previously Mustela vison), which has successfully established itself in Europe as an escapee from fur farms. The larger and more robust American mink has nearly completely replaced the European mink in its previous range.

Species protection projects all over Europe have so far faced the problem that European minks are difficult to breed in zoos. Captivity appears to have a negative effect on breeding success. But captive-bred individuals are needed in order to release and reintroduce the animal into protective zones. “The more we know about the physiology of European minks, the better we can respond to their needs,” says lead author Franz Schwarzenberger from the Institute of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Experimental Endocrinology at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

Faecal samples yield reproductive data

Scientists from the Vetmeduni Vienna, in cooperation with the Endangered Species Research Lab of Tallinn Zoo, collected faecal samples from European mink and analysed them in Vienna. The animals are managed under the aegis of an EEP program (European Endangered Species Program). Female oestrus is usually determined by vaginal cytology. The aim of the study was to assess the validity of this method and to optimise diagnosis of ovulation and pregnancy.

“Using our non-invasive method, we were able to measure female oestrogen levels and generate a seasonal hormone profile. The results showed that oestrogen levels are higher at the time of ovulation. Such oestrogen peaks occur three to four times a year on average. The animals are polyoestrous. That means, during the breeding season they are fertile in regular intervals. In the past, females which had already been mated with no success were not mated again that same year. Our results reveal that mating can occur much more often,” Schwarzenberger explains.

Looking for the perfect mate

European minks are solitary animals and extremely territorial in the wild, only approaching each other during the breeding season. In captivity, the animals are housed in large individual enclosures. “The exact time for mating is difficult to determine in a zoo because the animals attack each other if they aren’t receptive. In order to increase the chances of fertilisation, the females are examined at regular intervals during the mating season. During mating, we also closely observe the behaviour of the animals, especially of the males,” explains Astrid Nagl, first author of the study.

The Tallinn Zoo uses vaginal cytology to predict the time of ovulation. This method does not always yield satisfactory results, however. “The data from the faecal analysis serve to augment the available information so that some females which had previously not been mated successfully also had offspring,” Schwarzenberger reports.

Reintroduction in Europe not possible everywhere

The reintroduction of the European mink in Austria would not be easy. “In Austria, the American mink has replaced the European mink in aquatic and riparian zones,” says Schwarzenberger. Releasing the European mink in this habitat would be tantamount to a death sentence, as the American minks would defend their territory and kill the European Mink. This makes reintroduction only possible in areas where no populations of American mink exist,” says Schwarzenberger.

About 100–120 European mink live at Tallinn Zoo. The zoo’s captive-bred animals are reintroduced to the wild on the Estonian islands of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa. Another promising reintroduction project can be found at Steinhuder Meer in northwest Germany.

Service
The article “Non‐invasive monitoring of female reproductive hormone metabolites in the endangered European mink (Mustela lutreola)”, by Astrid Nagl, Nadja Kneidinger, Kairi Kiik, Heli Lindeberg, Tiit Maran and Franz Schwarzenberger was published in the journal Theriogenology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0093691X15003817

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Prof. Franz Schwarzenberger
Institute of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Experimental Endocrinology University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-4104
franz.schwarzenberger@vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact (Tallinn Zoo):
Tiit Maran, Ph.D.
Species Conservation Lab, Tallinn Zoo
phone +372 6943318
GSM +372 5066859
tiit.maran@tallinnzoo.ee

Released by:
Heike Hochhauser
Corporate Communications
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1151
heike.hochhauser@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2015/...

Heike Hochhauser | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Veterinary Medicine breeding season mink

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>