Fecal glucocorticoids and anthropogenic injury and mortality in North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis
Rolland, Rosalind M.
McLellan, William A.
Moore, Michael J.
Harms, Craig A.
Burgess, Elizabeth A.
Hunt, Kathleen E.
MetadataShow full item record
As human impacts on marine ecosystems escalate, there is increasing interest in quantifying sub-lethal physiological and pathological responses of marine mammals. Glucocorticoid hormones are commonly used to assess stress responses to anthropogenic factors in wildlife. While obtaining blood samples to measure circulating hormones is not currently feasible for free-swimming large whales, immunoassay of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (fGCs) has been validated for North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis (NARW). Using a general linear model, we compared fGC concentrations in right whales chronically entangled in fishing gear (n = 6) or live-stranded (n = 1), with right whales quickly killed by vessels (n = 5) and healthy right whales (n = 113) to characterize fGC responses to acute vs. chronic stressors. fGCs in entangled whales (mean ± SE: 1856.4 ± 1644.9 ng g-1) and the stranded whale (5740.7 ng g-1) were significantly higher than in whales killed by vessels (46.2 ± 19.2 ng g-1) and healthy whales (51.7 ± 8.7 ng g-1). Paired feces and serum collected from the live-stranded right whale provided comparison of fGCs in 2 matrices in a chronically stressed whale. Serum cortisol and corticosterone in this whale (50.0 and 29.0 ng ml-1, respectively) were much higher than values reported in other cetaceans, in concordance with extremely elevated fGCs. Meaningful patterns in fGC concentration related to acute vs. chronic impacts persisted despite potential for bacterial degradation of hormone metabolites in dead whales. These results provide biological validation for using fGCs as a biomarker of chronic stress in NARWs.
© The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Endangered Species Research 34 (2017): 417-429, doi:10.3354/esr00866.
Suggested CitationArticle: Rolland, Rosalind M., McLellan, William A., Moore, Michael J., Harms, Craig A., Burgess, Elizabeth A., Hunt, Kathleen E., "Fecal glucocorticoids and anthropogenic injury and mortality in North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis", Endangered Species Research 34 (2017): 417-429, DOI:10.3354/esr00866, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/9439
The following license files are associated with this item:
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Parks, Susan E. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2003-09)The focus of this thesis is the use of sound for communication by the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The surface active group (SAG) is the predominant social interaction in this species for which use ...
Absolute probability estimates of lethal vessel strikes to North Atlantic right whales in Roseway Basin, Scotian Shelf van der Hoop, Julie; Vanderlaan, Angelia S. M.; Taggart, Christopher T. (Ecological Society of America, 2012-10)Vessel strikes are the primary source of known mortality for the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Multi-institutional efforts to reduce mortality associated with vessel strikes include vessel-routing ...
Biomechanics of North Atlantic right whale bone : mandibular fracture as a fatal endpoint for blunt vessel-whale collision modeling Campbell-Malone, Regina (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2007-09)The North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, one of the most critically endangered whales in the world, is subject to high anthropogenic mortality. Vessel-whale collisions and entanglement in fishing gear were ...