Effects of pharmacological castration on endocrinological and chemical profiles in captive red and fallow deer
Costantin, Roberto Samuel
Accorsi, Pier Attilio
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AbstractIn wildlife captive management, contraception is highly desirable due to inbreeding risk and needed control of intra- and inter-specific aggressions. Deer, for which surgical castration can cause abnormal growth of the antlers, are suitable candidates for pharmacological castration. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of pharmacological castration on the physiological patterns and volatile chemical profiles of two deer species. We placed a subcutaneous implant of deslorelin acetate (4.7 mg) on four male red deer (Cervus elaphus) and two male fallow deer (Dama dama) (N=6) living together in a mixed-sex and -species group housed at a wildlife rescue centre in Tuscany, Italy. We combined hormone measurements and chemical investigation of metatarsal scent-gland odour secretions to test whether pharmacological castration will influence the volatile chemical profile, potentially modifying the olfactory communication during the rutting season. We used radioimmunoassay technique to determine faecal and plasma testosterone as well as faecal cortisol levels, and solid-phase microextraction coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyse the scent-gland odour secretions. We found that deer testosterone levels decreased after the subcutaneous deposition of the implant. However, castrated red deer exhibited more variability in testosterone concentrations throughout the study period compared to fallow deer, whose testosterone levels remained low after the implant. We detected a total of 124 (red deer) and 88 (fallow deer) volatile compounds in male scent-gland odour secretions, including naturally occurring ketones, alcohols, aldehydes, terpenes, carboxylic acids, esters, volatile fatty acids, and hydrocarbons. Odour richness, but not total abundance or ratios of compounds, changed with testosterone levels in red deer. In conclusion, our preliminary findings suggest that deslorelin acetate, causing a decrease of testosterone level and impacting the chemical profile of odour secretions, could work as a non-invasive contraception approach in human-managed populations of deer.
CitationMarliani, G., Gelli, D., Bellinello, E., Costantin, R.S., Nicoloso, S., Accorsi, P.A. and Vaglio, S. (2023) Effects of pharmacological castration on endocrinological and chemical profiles in captive red and fallow deer. The European Zoological Journal, 90(1), pp. 270-282.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
JournalThe European Zoological Journal
Description© 2023 The Authors. Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.1080/24750263.2023.2190351
SponsorsThis project has received funding from the University of Bologna to GM (visiting scholarship stipend) and PAA (endocrinology lab work), and the University of Wolverhampton’s Faculty of Science and Engineering to GM (visiting scholarship bench fees). Semiochemistry lab work and publication fees were funded by the University of Wolverhampton’s Research Investment Fund scheme – Phase 4 to SV.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/