Melissa Snape

Project: Effects of vaccination against gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) on the behaviour and fertility of macropods

Fertility control of overabundant wildlife species is increasingly being considered as an alternative to conventional lethal control in peri-urban areas where shooting or poisoning may pose public health risks. In Australia, native animals including kangaroos and wallabies are overabundant in some areas, particularly where improved pastures and increased water availability has lead to localised increases in population size and density. Conventional management of these populations is often deemed unacceptable by the public, due in part to macropods being a native species and a national icon. As such, fertility control may be a useful adjunct to the management of these native wildlife species.

In this study, the effects of a GnRH vaccine (GonaConTM) on reproduction and behaviour will be analysed, for the first time, in macropods. GnRH is a decapeptide hormone which is released from the hypothalamus in the brain. The release of GnRH stimulates the release of gonadotrophins (LH and FSH) from the pituitary gland, which in turn controls the function of the ovaries and testes and corresponding sex-linked behaviours. GonaConTM acts by stimulating an immune response in the animal. The resulting antibodies bind to GnRH and prevent it from stimulating the release of gonadotrophins from the pituitary gland. The outcome is disruption of the function of the gonads and loss of fertility.

Although GonaConTM has been successful in disrupting reproduction in eutherian species including deer, its effects on reproduction in a macropod marsupial have not been examined previously. Therefore the aims of this project are to evaluate the effects of GonaConTM both on the behaviour and reproductive capabilities of macropods, using tammar wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos as model species.

melissa_snape

Project details

CRC Program:
Terrestrial Products and Strategies

Locations:
School of Botany and Zoology, ANU CSIRO Entomology

Supervisors:
Dr. Lyn Hinds (CSIRO Ento)
Prof. William Foley (ANU)