Research in collaboration with the University of Queensland, published by the CSIRO in 2018, in the Journal of Reproduction, Fertility, and Development.
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Also available online at CSIRO.
The poor captive breeding success of southern hairy-nosed wombats (SHNWs; Lasiorhinus latifrons) has been attributed to the difficulty in accurately characterising oestrous behaviour and their relationship to circulating reproductive hormones. Over two wombat breeding seasons, the use of infrared cameras for 24-h remote behavioural monitoring and the analysis of urine samples collected from seven captive females, were investigated to determine the relationship between behaviour and changes in urinary progesterone metabolites (P4M).
Urinary P4M was divided into two concentrations: (1) ≤ baseline P4M values and (2) > baseline P4M values and evaluated against urine volume (mL) and the duration (s) and frequency of 23 behaviours recorded for 8 days surrounding D0 of the luteal phase (D0: a sustained increase in P4M for three or more consecutive days).
When P4M was ≤ baseline, the duration of urination and volume both decreased, whereas the duration and frequency of both pacing and rump bites by the female towards the male increased. These results suggest that there were detectable behavioural changes that can be mapped to the changes in the SHNW oestrous cycle, which may be used as behavioural indicators to identify the reproductive status of females.