For the first time Iberian lynx embryos are collected and preserved

Mar 23, 2013
Iberian lynx, most endangered wild cat species worldwide. Credit: Iberian Lynx Conservation Breeding Program

(Phys.org) —In February two Iberian lynx females who belong to the Iberian lynx Conservation Breeding Program (ILCBPS) were castrated in order to guarantee a better quality of life and prevent possible health problems.

Scientist from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research IZW, Berlin, Germany, went to the breeding centers in Spain and Portugal to obtain by flushing the oviducts and freeze ovarian tissue immediately after surgery. The obtained embryos and ovarian pieces are stored in liquid nitrogen. Now they are kept at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales de Madrid (CSIC) for further usage in the breeding programme.

The specialists of the IZW performed a pioneering procedure to obtain and freeze embryos in a wildlife species. Based on their experience in the domestic cat, they developed a method for cryopreserving oocytes and embryos of wild . "Seven days after mating we expected to flush embryos from the uterus. In both cases, however, oocytes and embryos were still within the oviducts. Thus, the in lynxes is slower than in ", says Prof Katarina Jewgenow from the IZW specialist team.

During two consecutive breeding seasons, "Azahar", a female from the Centro Nacional de Reprodução de Lince Ibérico in Silves, Portugal, experienced problems during parturition and an emergency caesarean operation was required in each case. The Conservation Breeding Program recommended not to breed "Azahar" again. In this situation it was decided to try to preserve her genetic material by collecting embryos and freezing the ovarian cortex after removing ovaries by castration. The IZW team preserved three embryos and the ovarian cortex. "The next step we are discussing right now is to implant these embryos into a foster mother, which might be an Eurasian lynx female", comments Jewgenow.

"Saliega", the other female, is located in the Centro de Cría de el Acebuche, in Doñana, Spain. "Saliega" was the first Iberian lynx who was bred in captivity in 2005. In July 2012 she suffered from a mammary tumor after lactating her current litter. The risk of mammary tumor recidivism, her advanced age (12 years) and the fact that she already gave birth to 16 cubs during the last 8 years was the basis for the decision to castrate her as well. "From her we only flushed unfertilised eggs, thus the male was not fertile", said Natalia Mikolaewska, a doctoral student from the IZW. "Her genetic material in terms of ovarian cortex was frozen as well", comments Natalia.

The Iberian lynx is the only wild cat species listed on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered. A decade ago, less than 200 individuals were left. The remaining population is located in southern Spain.

Explore further: A step into the unmown creates a 'win-win' for wildlife and humans

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cryopreservation: A chance for highly endangered mammals

Feb 28, 2013

Oocytes of lions, tigers and other cat species survive the preservation in liquid nitrogen. Scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin succeeded in carrying out cryopreservation ...

Iberian lynx not doomed by its genetics

Aug 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The low genetic diversity of the Iberian lynx – the most endangered carnivore in Europe – may not decrease the species' chance of survival, according to new research by geneticists.

Ticks can adapt to the Spain's climatic diversity

Mar 29, 2012

Carnivores in the Iberian Peninsula, such as the Iberian lynx, are under an increasingly serious threat: ticks that can adapt to changing climatic conditions and that can even survive in extremely arid environments. ...

Recommended for you

Dogs can be pessimists too

10 hours ago

Dogs generally seem to be cheerful, happy-go-lucky characters, so you might expect that most would have an optimistic outlook on life.

Transparent larvae hide opaque eyes behind reflections

23 hours ago

Becoming invisible is probably the ultimate form of camouflage: you don't just blend in, the background shows through you. And this strategy is not as uncommon as you might think. Kathryn Feller, from the University of Maryland ...

Peacock's train is not such a drag

Sep 17, 2014

The magnificent plumage of the peacock may not be quite the sacrifice to love that it appears to be, University of Leeds researchers have discovered.

User comments : 0