Artificial insemination has been used frequently in the captive whooping crane (Grus americana) population. In the 1980s, it was necessary at times to inseminate females with semen from several males during the breeding season or with semen from multiple males simultaneously due to unknown sperm viability of the breeding males. The goals of this study were to apply microsatellite DNA profiles to resolve uncertain paternities and to use these results to evaluate the current paternity assignment assumptions used by captive managers. Microsatellite DNA profiles were successful in resolving 20 of 23 paternity questions. When resolved paternities were coupled with data on insemination timing, substantial information was revealed on fertilization timing in captive whooping cranes. Delayed fertilization from inseminations 6+ days pre-oviposition suggests capability of sperm storage.
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Artificial insemination in captive Whooping Cranes: Results from genetic analyses