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Accession Number 5001833

Title Development of methods for the restoration ecology of cranes

Project Description Aviculturists improve poor fertility (common in captive cranes) through artificial insemination (AI).

Patuxent also uses netted pens and behaviorally conditioned cranes to produce naturally fertile

(copulating) sandhill and whooping crane pairs. Partuxent has five naturally fertile whooping crane

pairs and eight more that should start production in the next five years. Natural fertility is not good

in some naturally fertile pairs and artificial insemination is used to augment the production of fertile

eggs.We need to manipulate genetics, behavior, and physiology, and to control disease to

maintain the captive population and to restore crane populations in the wild. An understanding of

the cranes circannual hormone rhythms as they relate to reproductive behavior, photoperiod, and

stress will offer valuable information. Recent development of fecal steroid enzyme immunoassays

(Lasley and Kirkpatrick 1991, Lee et al. 1995) allows noninvasive serial examinations of hormone

cycles in groups of reproductively successful cranes. Patuxent collected fecal samples from

captive Florida sandhill cranes and from whooping cranes on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Also, we collected fecal samples during the egg laying cycle to see if we can predict time of

ovulation and oviposition. Because of possible food poisoning problems, we bioassay all crane

feed before feeding it to the cranes (see ôcore operationsö Acc No:500xxxx). In cranes coccidia

parasites cause disease both in the intestinal tract and in a disseminated visceral form (DVC).

Granulomatous nodules form in many organs causing pneumonia, hepatitis, myocarditis, and

splenitis, besides the enteritis seen in other species. Patuxent uses coccidiostatic drugs to

control DVC (see ôDVC vaccineö Acc No: 500xxxx). In whooping cranes, Eastern Equine

Encephalitis (EEE) causes disease and death in some cranes. We use a human vaccine to

protect against EEE. Like EEE, a new virus ôWest Nile Virusö may threaten the crane flock (see

ôWest Nile Virusö Acc No: 500xxxx). We continue with the help of cooperators, to evaluate and

manipulate the genetic composition of captive and wild whooping crane flocks. We want to reduce

inbreeding and increase vitality. These studies include estimators of critical genetic areas like

allozymes and the Major Histocompatability loci, and nonsense DNA like minisatellite and

microsatellite DNA (see ôAFLPö Acc No: 500xxxx).

Keywords coccidiosis, crane, eastern equine encephalitis, fecal steroids, grus americana, grus canadensis,

incubation, major histocompatability compl, reproduction,

Principal George F Gee, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: George_Gee@usgs.gov;

Investigators

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