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Age, Gender, and Feeding Environment Influence Fecal Microbial Diversity in Spotted Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta)


Fecal microbes play an important role in the survival and health of wild animals. Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is one of the representative carnivores in Africa. In this study, we examined the fecal microflora of spotted hyena by conducting high-throughput sequencing of the fecal microbial 16S rRNA gene V3–V4 high mutation region. The effects of age, sex, and feeding environment on the fecal microbiota of spotted hyenas were determined. The results showed that the core bacteria phyla of spotted hyenas fecal microbiota include Firmicutes (at an average relative abundance of 53.93%), Fusobacteria (19.56%), Bacteroidetes (11.40%), Actinobacteria (5.78%), and Proteobacteria (3.26%), etc. Age, gender, and feeding environment all had important effects on the fecal microbiota of spotted hyenas, among which feeding environment might be the most significant. The abundance of the Firmicutes in the adult group was significantly higher than that in the juvenile group, whereas the abundance of Fusobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria were significantly lower than that in the juvenile group. The abundance of Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae in the female group was significantly higher than that in the male group. There were significant differences between the fecal microbial communities of Jinan group and Weihai group, and microbes from the phyla Firmicutes and Synergistetes were representative species associated with the difference.

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We would like to thank the staff of Jinan wildlife park, Weihai wildlife park and Linyi wildlife park for their assistance in the fecal samples collection. We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing.


This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Fund of China (No. 31400473), the Forestry Science and Technology Innovation Plan of Shandong province (LYCX07-2018-36), the Science and Technology Plan Project for Colleges and Universities in Shandong Province of China (J14LE16).

Author information

LC conceived, designed, performed the experiments and analyzed the data; ML wrote the paper; YG, WS contributed materials; JZ, HD, WJ, SW modifies the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Correspondence to Lei Chen.

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Supplementary Figure 1Rarefaction analysis of 12 adult spotted hyenas and 3 juvenile spotted hyena fecal microbiota. In the rarefaction curve, the abscissa represents the number of sequencing samples randomly extracted from a certain sample, and the ordinate represents the number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) constructed on the basis of the number of sequences, which reflected the sequencing depth, and different samples are represented by differently colored curves (Png 111 kb )

Supplementary Figure 2 Anosim analyses of adult group and juvenile group (a), female group and male group (b), and Jinan group and Weihai group (c) based on Bray-Curtis distance.Anosim is used to investigate whether the intergroup differences are greater than the intragroup differences. The R value is between (-1, 1). An R value greater than 0 indicates that the intergroup difference is significant; an R value less than 0 indicates that the intragroup difference is greater than the intergroup difference. P values less than 0.05 indicated statistical significance. The ordinate represents the rank of the distance between the samples. The abscissa “Between” reflects intergroup findings and the other two reflect intragroup findings (Png 1,253 kb)

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Chen, L., Liu, M., Zhu, J. et al. Age, Gender, and Feeding Environment Influence Fecal Microbial Diversity in Spotted Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Curr Microbiol (2020).

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