European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 569–577 | Cite as

Testosterone production and spermatogenesis in free-ranging Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) throughout the year

  • Karin MüllerEmail author
  • Stephanie Koster
  • Johanna Painer
  • Arne Söderberg
  • Dolores Gavier-Widèn
  • Edgar Brunner
  • Martin Dehnhard
  • Katarina Jewgenow
Original Paper


Seasonal variation in reproduction is common in mammals as an adaptation to annual changes in the habitat. In lynx, male reproduction activity is of special interest because female lynxes are monoestric with an unusual narrow (about 1 month) breeding season. In Eurasian lynx, mating occurs between January and April depending on the latitude. To characterize the seasonal pattern of sperm and testosterone production in free-ranging Eurasian lynxes, long-term frozen-stored testis material obtained postmortem from 74 hunted or road-killed lynxes in Sweden was used to analyze annual changes in testis mass, testicular testosterone content, and spermatogenetic activity. Values of most gonadal parameters obtained in subadult lynxes were significantly different from the values observed in adult males. In adult lynxes, a moderate annual fluctuation of gonadal parameters was found which was most profound for testis weight and testicular testosterone concentration reaching highest values in March (median of 2.18 g and 2.67 μg/g tissue respectively). Grouping the data of pre-/breeding (January–April) and postbreeding season (May–September) revealed significant changes in testis weight and testosterone concentration. The relative spermatogenetic activity remained high in postbreeding testes. However, net sperm production decreased according to reduction of testis mass and a tendency to lower cauda epididymal sperm numbers in the postbreeding period was observed. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to analyze the gonadal activity of frozen testis/epididymis tissue postmortem and that male Eurasian lynxes show—opposite to the females—only moderate seasonal changes in their reproductive capacity.


Lynx Seasonality Spermatogenesis Testis Testosterone 



We thank Christiane Franz, Katrin Paschmionka and Marlies Rohleder for their excellent technical assistance. We also thank the staff of the Necropsy Division and Jessica Åsbrink, SVA, for their help with the postmortem examinations and sample collection. This work was supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF Number 033 L046).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Müller
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Stephanie Koster
    • 1
  • Johanna Painer
    • 1
  • Arne Söderberg
    • 2
  • Dolores Gavier-Widèn
    • 2
    • 3
  • Edgar Brunner
    • 4
  • Martin Dehnhard
    • 1
  • Katarina Jewgenow
    • 1
  1. 1.Leibniz-Institut für Zoo- und WildtierforschungBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Pathology and Wildlife DiseasesNational Veterinary Institute (SVA)UppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public HealthSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)UppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Department of Medical StatisticsUniversity Medical Center GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  5. 5.Arbeitsgruppe ReproduktionsbiologieLeibniz-Institut für Zoo- und WildtierforschungBerlinGermany

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