Endocrine correlates of musth in free-ranging Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) determined by non-invasive faecal steroid hormone metabolite measurements

Ratna Ghosal, André Ganswindt, Polani B. Seshagiri, Raman Sukumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

The occurrence of musth, a period of elevated levels of androgens and heightened sexual activity, has been well documented for the male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). However, the relationship between androgendependent musth and adrenocortical function in this species is unclear. The current study is the first assessment of testicular and adrenocortical function in free-ranging male Asian elephants by measuring levels of testosterone (androgen) and cortisol (glucocorticoid - a physiological indicator of stress) metabolites in faeces. During musth, males expectedly showed significant elevation in faecal testosterone metabolite levels. Interestingly, glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations remained unchanged between musth and non-musth periods. This observation is contrary to that observed with wild and captive African elephant bulls and captive Asian bull elephants. Our results show that musth may not necessarily represent a stressful condition in free-ranging male Asian elephants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere84787
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 17 2013

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