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Swanson, W. F. (2003). Research in Nondomestic Species: Experiences in Reproductive Physiology Research for Conservation of Endangered Felids (Vol. 4).
Abstract: Tremendous strides have been made in recent years to broaden our understanding of reproductive processes in nondomestic felid species and further our capacity to use this basic knowledge to control and manipulate reproduction of endangered cats. Much of that progress has culminated from detailed scientific studies conducted in nontraditional laboratory settings, frequently at collaborating zoological parks but also under more primitive conditions, including in the field. A mobile laboratory approach is described, which incorporates a diverse array of disciplines and research techniques. This approach has been extremely useful, especially for conducting gamete characterization and function studies as well as reproductive surveys, and for facilitating the development of assisted reproductive technology. With continuing advances in assisted reproduction in rare felids, more procedures are being conducted primarily as service-related activities, targeted to increase effectiveness of species propagation and population management. It can be a challenge for both investigators and institutional animal care and use committees (IACUCs) to differentiate these service-based procedures from traditional research studies (that require IACUC oversight). For research with rare cat species, multi-institutional collaboration frequently is necessary to gain access to scientifically meaningful numbers of study subjects. Similarly, for service-based efforts, the ability to perform reproductive procedures across institutions under nonstandard laboratory conditions is critical to applying reproductive sciences for managing and preserving threatened cat populations. Reproductive sciences can most effectively assist population management programs (e.g., Species Survival Plans) in addressing conservation priorities if these research and service- related procedures can be conducted “on the road” at distant national and international locales. This mobile laboratory approach has applications beyond endangered species research, notably for other scientific fields (e.g., studies of hereditary disease in domestic cat models) in which bringing the laboratory to the subject is of value.