Reproduction, Growth and Development in Captive Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas).
Zoo Biology 24 (1): 29-49.
Recent success propagating captive beluga has resulted from combined efforts by North American zoos and aquariums to manage disparate collections as a single population. This success has provided a tremendous opportunity to increase our understanding of beluga reproductive biology. Blood samples were collected on a weekly to biweekly basis from 23 female and 12 male beluga, ranging in age from 2–15 years, for analysis of serum progesterone (P) and testosterone (T), respectively. Peri‐parturient observational data, including food intake, duration and signs of labor, and nursing patterns were collected from 15 days prepartum to 30 days postpartum during 21 births. Total body lengths and weights were collected from 10 captive‐born beluga. For female beluga, the mean (±SD) age, body length, and weight at first conceptions were 9.1±2.8 years, 318.0±9.1 cm, and 519±84 kg. Thirty‐five luteal phases and 13 conceptions were detected from January–June, and 70% of luteal phases and 80% conceptions occurred from March–May. The mean luteal phase and total estrous cycle lengths were 30.0±6.5 days and 48.0±4.6 days, respectively. For male beluga, the mean age that males sired their first calf was 13.3±2.6 years. Compared to younger males (<8 years of age, 0.95 ng/ml), levels of T secretion in older males (>8 years of age, 5.0 ng/ml) were elevated significantly only during the interval from January–April. Highest T concentrations (6.2±4.9 ng/ml) were recorded from January–March, whereas nadir concentrations (1.1±1.0 ng/ml) were detected from August–September. The mean gestation length was 475.0±20.4 days (n=9). For parturition, the mean time from the first appearance of fluke or rostrum to delivery, delivery to placental passage, and delivery to nursing were 4.4±2.9 hr, 7.6±1.8 hr, and 43±45 hr, respectively. All cows had decreased food intake on the day of delivery, with 44% having zero intake. Peak 24‐hr nursing activity occurred 3.9±2.7 days post‐partum. Growth (i.e., body weight and length) as a function of age were well described by the Gompertz model (r2=0.91, 0.93). Based on the model, growth in body weight and length were significantly greater in males compared to females. Predicted birth weight (88.9 kg) was similar for both sexes, however, and male calves were predicted to be shorter (154.3 cm) than female calves (160.7 cm). The results provide the first descriptions of captive beluga reproductive physiology, including endocrinology, peri‐parturient behavior, growth, and reproductive maturity. This knowledge is important for helping to maintain genetically diverse, self‐sustaining populations of captive beluga whales. Zoo Biol 24:29–49, 2005. © 2005 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
Inia geoffrensis in Captivity in the United States.
IUCN Species Survival Commission 3: 35–41.
The history of Inia geoffrensls in the United States covers a period of three decades which is characterized by the combined acquisition of as many as 70 animals over the first ten years, an abrupt decline in importation, and a loss of specimens leading to the current captive population of one. Data obtained from several institutions, availablo literature, and the personal files of the senior authors are reviewed. Such factors as the hazards oftransport, longevity, maintenance conditions, necropsy findings, and comparisons between Inia and the more familiar marine species, Tursiops truncatus, are considered. Institutional data are additionally summarized in tabular form. The authors suggest that crowding and/or the overly aggressive behavior of Inia kept in groups contributes to the species'poor longevity record in captivity and that isolated individuals or animals that can be readily separated have a greater chance for survival in a captive environment.
Relationships of Cetacea (Artiodactyla) Among Mammals: Increased Taxon Sampling Alters Interpretations of Key Fossils and Character Evolution.
PLoS ONE 4(9): e7062. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007062.
Integration of diverse data (molecules, fossils) provides the most robust test of the phylogeny of cetaceans. Positioning key fossils is critical for reconstructing the character change from life on land to life in the water.
We reexamine relationships of critical extinct taxa that impact our understanding of the origin of Cetacea. We do this in the context of the largest total evidence analysis of morphological and molecular information for Artiodactyla (661 phenotypic characters and 46,587 molecular characters, coded for 33 extant and 48 extinct taxa). We score morphological data for Carnivoramorpha, †Creodonta, Lipotyphla, and the †raoellid artiodactylan †Indohyus and concentrate on determining which fossils are positioned along stem lineages to major artiodactylan crown clades. Shortest trees place Cetacea within Artiodactyla and close to †Indohyus, with †Mesonychia outside of Artiodactyla. The relationships of †Mesonychia and †Indohyus are highly unstable, however - in trees only two steps longer than minimum length, †Mesonychia falls inside Artiodactyla and displaces †Indohyus from a position close to Cetacea. Trees based only on data that fossilize continue to show the classic arrangement of relationships within Artiodactyla with Cetacea grouping outside the clade, a signal incongruent with the molecular data that dominate the total evidence result.
Integration of new fossil material of †Indohyus impacts placement of another extinct clade †Mesonychia, pushing it much farther down the tree. The phylogenetic position of †Indohyus suggests that the cetacean stem lineage included herbivorous and carnivorous aquatic species. We also conclude that extinct members of Cetancodonta (whales + hippopotamids) shared a derived ability to hear underwater sounds, even though several cetancodontans lack a pachyostotic auditory bulla. We revise the taxonomy of living and extinct artiodactylans and propose explicit node and stem-based definitions for the ingroup.
Phylogenetic relationships of artiodactyls and cetaceans as deduced from the comparison of cytochrome b and 12S rRNA mitochondrial sequences.
Mol. Biol. Evol. (1997) 14 (5): 550-559.
A data set of complete mitochondrial cytochrome b and 12S rDNA sequences is presented here for 17 representatives of Artiodactyla and Cetacea, together with potential outgroups (two Perissodactyla, two Carnivora, two Tethytheria, four Rodentia, and two Marsupialia). We include seven sequences not previously published from Hippopotamidae (Ancodonta) and Camelidae (Tylopoda), yielding a total of nearly 2.1 kb for both genes combined. Distance and parsimony analyses of each gene indicate that 11 clades are well supported, including the artiodactyl taxa Pecora, Ruminantia (with low 12S rRNA support), Tylopoda, Suina, and Ancodonta, as well as Cetacea, Perissodactyla, Carnivora, Tethytheria, Muridae, and Caviomorpha. Neither the cytochrome b nor the 12S rDNA genes resolve the relationships between these major clades. The combined analysis of the two genes suggests a monophyletic Cetacea +Artiodactyla clade (defined as "Cetartiodactyla"), whereas Perissodactyla, Carnivora, and Tethytheria fall outside this clade. Perissodactyla could represent the sister taxon of Cetartiodactyla, as deduced from resampling studies among outgroup lineages. Cetartiodactyla includes five major lineages: Ruminantia, Tylopoda, Suina, Ancodonta, and Cetacea, among which the phylogenetic relationships are not resolved. Thus, Suiformes do not appear to be monophyletic, justifying their split into the Suina and Ancodonta infraorders. An association between Cetacea and Hippopotamidae is supported by the cytochrome b gene but not by the 12S rRNA gene. Calculation of divergence dates suggests that the Cetartiodactyla could have diverged from other Ferungulata about 60 MYA.