First assessment of hoary fox (Lycalopex vetulus) seasonal ovarian cyclicity by non-invasive hormonal monitoring technique.

Reproduction is key to species survival, and reproductive physiology represents a high priority investigative area for conservation biology, as it provides a basic understanding of critical life-history traits, information that is helpful for the establishment of management strategies. Here, we generated knowledge about the reproductive endocrinology of the hoary fox (Lycalopex vetulus), a small canid (2.5–4 kg) endemic to open areas of the Brazilian Cerrado and listed in the Brazilian National List of Endangered species. Specifically, we utilized non-invasive hormone monitoring methods to assess oestrogen and progestagen metabolites from eight female hoary foxes housed in five zoological institutions in the state of Sao Paulo–Brazil. We observed the elevations of oestrogen and progestagen metabolites between July and September in six of the eight females. No significant evidence of ovarian activity was observed during other months. Two females, who shared the same enclosure, did not show a pattern of reproductive cyclicity. Based on these characteristics, we concluded that captive hoary foxes are seasonal monoestric, with the beginning of the oestrus cycle occurring mainly in July followed by 2 months of the luteal phase when conception does not occur. We suggest the dosage of faecal metabolites of estradiol and progesterone could be used to differentiate the reproductive period from a non-reproductive period in Lycalopex vetulus females, providing relevant information about their reproductive biology that may contribute to species conservation and management strategies, such as increased ex situ reproductive success.