Hormone analysis is a precise and widely accepted tool for monitoring reproductive function and responses to stressors. Although hormones are present and can be measured in various biological matrices, non-invasive methods have gained popularity over the past 30 years as a more practical approach for assessing ovarian, testicular and, more recently, adrenocortical activity in intractable wildlife species. Non-invasive hormone monitoring also has been key to understanding biological mechanisms related to observed behaviours of captive and free-ranging animals. Despite the increasing popularity of this research field, wildlife endocrinologists have not had a specific forum for sharing and discussing their latest findings, technical developments and common challenges. To provide such a communication platform, the International Society for Wildlife Endocrinology (ISWE) was established in 2010, followed by an international meeting held on 3–4 November 2011 at the Toronto Zoo, Canada. Over several sessions, keynote speakers and participants discussed recent developments of new and innovative methods for hormone monitoring, as well as the latest advances in basic endocrinology as applied to adrenal function, reproductive physiology, animal health, ecology and evolution. Here, we introduce ISWE to the scientific community and discuss how this new society will serve as a resource for wildlife endocrinologists worldwide.
Keywords: non-invasive hormone monitoring, behavioural endocrinology, environmental endocrinology, conservation endocrinology, reproductive hormones, stress hormones