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A Simplified Method for Monitoring Progestagens in African Elephants under Field Conditions
Methods in Ecology and Evolution (2010)
  • Bruce A. Schulte, Western Kentucky University
  • Elizabeth W. Freeman
  • F. Nicole Abbondanza
  • Jordana M. Meyer
  • Janine L. Brown
1. Hormone analyses are frequently used to support management of wildlife; however, current techniques are not very field-friendly. In situ hormone monitoring is often expensive, time consuming and logistically difficult. Thus, a new method for assessing ovarian cycle activity non-invasively in free-ranging African elephants was developed. 2. The technique involves handshaking faecal samples in common organic solvents, use of environmentally stable antibody-coated microtitre plates and assessment of progestagen concentrations based on a visual colour change.
3. Studies using ex situ African elephants determined that handshaking faeces in a solution of isopropyl alcohol was effective for extracting the faecal progestagens (efficiency >90%).
4. Antibody-coated plates were stable for up to 3 months under a range of temperatures (4 to >38 C) and the resulting faecal oestrous cycle progestagen profiles corresponded significantly to those of serum (r = 0Æ89, P < 0Æ01).
5. This field-friendly technique provided qualitative hormone data without the need for expensive equipment. Although developed for progestagen analyses in elephants, this approach should be adaptable to other steroids in a myriad of species. As such, it could facilitate how hormones are measured in species under field conditions and provide new tools for making sensible conservation management decisions. 
  • enzyme immunoassay,
  • faeces,
  • hormone extraction,
  • Loxodonta africana,
  • noninvasive,
  • progestagens
Publication Date
doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2009.00004.x
Publisher Statement
Originally published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Citation Information
Freeman EW, Abbondanza FN, Meyer JM, Schulte BA, Brown JL. 2010. A simplified method for monitoring progestagens in African elephants under field conditions. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 1, 86-91.