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.
Southern hairy-nosed wombats (SHNWs: Lasiorhinus latifrons) do not breed well in captivity. To better understand their reproduction, daily urine samples were collected from nine captive females and analysed for volume (mL), specific gravity and a qualitative index of the number of epithelial cells, then stored at -20°C until samples could be analysed for progesterone metabolites (P4M). The mean oestrous cycle length was 35.1±2.4 days; however, individual cycle length ranged from 23 to 47 days.
The mean luteal phase length was 20.8±1.3 days (range: 12 to 33 days). Urinary P4M was divided into four oestrous cycle stages: (1) early follicular phase, (2) late follicular phase, (3) early luteal phase, (4) late luteal phase, and analysed against urinary characteristics. During the late follicular phase, urine volume decreased (P=0.002) while urine specific gravity (P=0.001) and concentration of epithelial cells (P=0.004) both increased.
The level of variability in oestrous cycle length suggests that some captive females may exhibit abnormal cycles; however, the changes in the urinary characteristics associated with the different stages of the oestrous cycle appear to offer a possible non-invasive means of monitoring the reproductive status of captive SHNWs.