Reproductive hormones monthly variation in free-ranging European wildcats: Lack of association with faecal marking

Ana Piñeiro, Mª Carmen Hernández, Gema Silván, Juan Carlos Illera, Isabel Barja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Integrating ecophysiological and behavioural discoveries in conservation and management plans is essential to preserve scarce and elusive species such as the European wildcat (Felis silvestris). The purpose of this study was to characterize the monthly variation in the steroid reproductive hormone metabolite levels (oestradiol, progesterone and testosterone) in this species and to test its possible association with a monthly pattern of faecal marking. By collecting fresh faecal samples in Montes do Invernadeiro Natural Park (Galicia, Northwest Spain) each month, we obtained a total of 110 samples belonging to 25 different individuals. We conducted enzyme immunoassays which allowed us to track the annual variation in reproductive hormone excretion patterns in wildcat scats. Furthermore, we also evaluated the possible relation between the faeces used as marks and the reproductive hormone levels. We found that oestradiol and progesterone metabolite levels exhibited a distinct pattern, both increasing during the breeding months. Oestradiol metabolite larger peaks were found during March and April, whereas the highest concentration of progesterone metabolites appeared in July. On the contrary, testosterone metabolite levels did not significantly change depending on the month. Moreover, we did not find any evidence that the faecal marking behaviour pattern was associated with reproductive hormone metabolite levels. It seems that other factors related to habitat and food resources could be more important in the performance of this behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReproduction in Domestic Animals
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • enzyme immunoassay
  • faecal marking
  • Felis silvestris
  • oestradiol
  • progesterone
  • steroids
  • testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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