Glucocorticoid measurement in plasma, urates, and feathers from California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) in response to a human-induced stressor
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AuthorGlucs, Zeka E.
Smith, Donald R.
Tubbs, Christopher W.
Scherbinski, Jennie Jones
Finkelstein, Myra E.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractVertebrates respond to stressful stimuli with the secretion of glucocorticoid (GC) hormones, such as corticosterone (CORT), and measurements of these hormones in wild species can provide insight into physiological responses to environmental and human-induced stressors. California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) are a critically endangered and intensively managed avian species for which information on GC response to stress is lacking. Here we evaluated a commercially available I125 double antibody radioimmunoassay (RIA) and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit for measurement of CORT and GC metabolites (GCM) in California condor plasma, urate, and feather samples. The precision and accuracy of the RIA assay outperformed the ELISA for CORT and GCM measurements, and CORT and GCM values were not comparable between the two assays for any sample type. RIA measurements of total CORT in condor plasma collected from 41 condors within 15 minutes of a handling stressor were highly variable (median = 70 ng/mL, range = 1–189 ng/mL) and significantly different between wild and captive condors (p = 0.02, two-tailed t-test, n = 10 wild and 11 captive). Urate GCM levels (median = 620 ng/g dry wt., range = 0.74–7200 ng/g dry wt., n = 216) significantly increased within 2 hr of the acute handling stressor (p = 0.032, n = 11 condors, one-tailed paired t-test), while feather section CORT concentrations (median = 18 pg/mm, range = 6.3–68 ng/g, n = 37) also varied widely within and between feathers. Comparison of multiple regression linear models shows condor age as a significant predictors of plasma CORT levels, while age, sex, and plasma CORT levels predicted GCM levels in urates collected within 30 min of the start of handling. Our findings highlight the need for validation when selecting an immunoassay for use with a new species, and suggest that non-invasively collected urates and feathers hold promise for assessing condor responses to acute or chronic environmental and human-induced stressors.
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Copyright: This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.