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Science 23 September 2011:
Vol. 333 no. 6050 pp. 1710-1711
DOI: 10.1126/science.1212452


Coexisting with Cattle

Johan T. du Toit

+ Author Affiliations   Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA.



Many large plant-eating mammals have evolved to live in multispecies assemblages, with species competing for food and other resources. Through domestication and animal husbandry, however, humans have enabled a few species of livestock, such as cattle, to dominate such assemblages. One standard practice in livestock production on rangelands, espoused by commercial ranchers and subsistence pastoralists alike, is the eradication of large, indigenous herbivores that are believed to compete with livestock for food. These eradication efforts have increasingly problematic implications for biodiversity conservation (1). So it is timely that on page 1753 of this issue, Odadi et al. (2) report on a relatively simple experiment that tested the assumption that cattle and wildlife compete for food. Their study, conducted in an East African savanna renowned for its large herbivore diversity, revealed that cattle do compete with herbivores such as zebras and gazelles during the dry season, when food quantity is low. In contrast, during the wet season, when food quantity is high, grazing by wildlife benefits cattle by improving the quality of forage. The findings highlight ecological processes that promote coexistence among large herbivores in grasslands and savannas, and hence could be useful for conservation.




Am J Reprod Immunol. 2011 Jul;66(1):40-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2011.01003.x. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Contraceptive vaccines for wildlife: a review.

Kirkpatrick JF, Lyda RO, Frank KM.


The Science and Conservation Center, ZooMontana, 2100 South Shiloh Road, Billings, MT 59106, USA.


Wildlife, free-ranging and captive, poses and causes serious population problems not unlike those encountered with human overpopulation. Traditional lethal control programs, however, are not always legal, wise, safe, or publicly acceptable; thus, alternative approaches are necessary. Immunocontraception of free-ranging wildlife has reached the management level, with success across a large variety of species. Thus far, the immunocontraceptive research and management applications emphasis have been centered on porcine zona pellucida and gonadotropin-releasing hormone vaccines. Contraceptive success has been achieved in more than 85 different wildlife species, at the level of both the individual animal and the population. At the population management level with free-ranging species, the primary focus has been on wild horses, urban deer, bison, and African elephants. The challenges in the development and application of vaccine-based wildlife contraceptives are diverse and include differences in efficacy across species, safety of vaccines during pregnancy, the development of novel delivery systems for wild and wary free-ranging animals, and the constraints of certain non-contraceptive effects, such as effects on behavior. Beyond the constraints imposed by the public and a host of regulatory concerns, there exists a real limitation for funding of well-designed programs that apply this type of fertility control.

© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S. PMID: 21501279 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]





2010 Oct 26;5(10):e13635.

Immunocontraception in wild horses (Equus caballus) extends reproductive cycling beyond the normal breeding season.

Nuñez CM, Adelman JS, Rubenstein DI.


Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.



Although the physiological effects of immunocontraceptive treatment with porcine zona pellucida (PZP) have been well studied, little is known about PZP's effects on the scheduling of reproductive cycling. Recent behavioral research has suggested that recipients of PZP extend the receptive breeding period into what is normally the non-breeding season.


To determine if this is the case, we compiled foaling data from wild horses (Equus caballus) living on Shackleford Banks, North Carolina for 4 years pre- and 8 years post-contraception management with PZP (pre-contraception, n = 65 births from 45 mares; post-contraception, n = 97 births from 46 mares). Gestation lasts approximately 11-12 months in wild horses, placing conception at approximately 11.5 months prior to birth. Since the contraception program began in January 2000, foaling has occurred over a significantly broader range than it had before the contraception program. Foaling in PZP recipients (n = 45 births from 27 mares) has consistently occurred over a broader range than has foaling in non-recipients (n = 52 births from 19 mares). In addition, current recipients of PZP foaled later in the year than did prior recipient and non-recipient mares. Females receiving more consecutive PZP applications gave birth later in the season than did females receiving fewer applications. Finally, the efficacy of PZP declined with increasing consecutive applications before reaching 100% after five consecutive applications.


For a gregarious species such as the horse, the extension of reproductive cycling into the fall months has important social consequences, including decreased group stability and the extension of male reproductive behavior. In addition, reproductive cycling into the fall months could have long-term effects on foal survivorship. Managers should consider these factors before enacting immunocontraceptive programs in new populations. We suggest minor alterations to management strategies to help alleviate such unintended effects in new populations.

PMID: 21049017 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]  PMCID: PMC2964306 Free PMC Article

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