R code and data for "Determining the threshold of serum progesterone to diagnose pregnancy in moose"

  • Madeline Struck (Creator)
  • William J Severud (Creator)
  • Yvette Chenaux-Ibrahim (Creator)
  • Edmund J. Isaac (Creator)
  • Janine L. Brown (Creator)
  • Seth A Moore (Creator)
  • Tiffany M Wolf (Creator)



Pregnancy determination is necessary for sound wildlife management and understanding population dynamics. Pregnancy rates are sensitive to environmental and physiological factors, and may indicate the overall trajectory of a population. Pregnancy can be assessed through direct methods (rectal palpation, sonography) or indicated using hormonal assays (serum progesterone or pregnancy-specific protein B, fecal progestagenprogestogen metabolites). A commonly used threshold of 2 ng/ml of progesterone in serum has been used by moose biologists to indicate pregnancy but has not been rigorously investigated. To develop a more precise threshold, we examined the relationship between progesterone concentrations and pregnancy in serum samples from 87 moose (Alces alces; 64 female, 23 male) captured from 2010 to 2020 in the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in northeastern Minnesota, USA. Pregnancy was confirmed via rectal palpation (n = 25), necropsy (n = 2), calf observation (n = 25), or characteristic pre-calving behavior (n = 6), with a total of 58 females determined pregnant and 6 not pregnant; 23 males were included to increase the non-pregnant sample size. Using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, we identified an optimal threshold of 0.115 ng/mL with a specificity of 0.97 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.90–1.00) and a sensitivity of 0.98 (95% CI = 0.95–1.00). Progesterone concentrations were significantly higher in cases of pregnant versus non-pregnant cows, but we did not detect a difference between single and twin births. We then applied our newly developed threshold to calculate annual pregnancy rates for all female moose (n = 133) captured in Grand Portage from 2010 to 2021. Mean pregnancy rate during this period was 91% and ranged from 69.2 to 100%. Developing a reliable method for determining pregnancy status via serum progesterone analyses will allow wildlife managers to assess pregnancy rates of moose without devoting substantial time and resources to palpation and calf monitoring.

Raw data of serum progesterone concentrations and associated metadata (ID, sex, number of calves) of moose captured on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in northeastern Minnesota, USA and code to perform analyses to determine a threshold of serum progesterone to indicate pregnancy.

Funding information
Sponsorship: Minnesota Zoo Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Fund; U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; US Fish and Wildlife Services Tribal Wildlife Grant Program; Bureau of Indian Affairs Endangered Species Program; Indianapolis Zoo Conservation Grant

Referenced by
Struck et al., Determining the threshold of serum progesterone to diagnose pregnancy in moose, in prep, Conservation Physiology
Date made availableApr 6 2022
PublisherData Repository for the University of Minnesota
Date of data productionJan 1 2010 - Feb 28 2020

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