Variation in adrenal and thyroid hormones with life-history stage in juvenile northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)

TitleVariation in adrenal and thyroid hormones with life-history stage in juvenile northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJelincic J.A, Tift M.S, Houser D.S, Crocker D.E
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Date Published2017/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0016-6480
Accession NumberWOS:000409396400012
Keywordsbottle-nosed dolphins; diurnal cycle; energy-expenditure; Fasting; HPA axis; individual-differences; marine mammals; Molting; phoca-vitulina; pinniped; plasma-cortisol; sex-differences; Stress hormones; stress-response; tursiops-truncatus

The classical approach to quantifying the impact of stressors on wildlife is through characterization of hormones associated with the generalized stress response. However, interpretation of hormone data can be difficult due to the range of natural variation within a species and potential confounds of individual and life-history variables. Blood adrenal and thyroid hormones were measured in 144 chemically immobilized yearling northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) to characterize variation between sexes and across semiannual haul-outs. There was no relationship between hormone concentrations and time needed for collecting blood nor evidence of diel patterns, suggesting that collection of samples for baseline values can be accomplished without bias due to handling artifacts or time of day. Serum cortisol concentrations did not vary with gender or across haul-out fasts but increased dramatically during molting. Cortisol was correlated with aldosterone across all measured life-history stages. Thyroid hormone levels were lower in females and decreased with fasting in both sexes during the fall haul-out. Cortisol concentrations were inversely associated with total triiodothyronine (T3) and positively associated with reverse T3 concentrations across all measured life-history stages suggesting an important impact of cortisol on deiodinase enzymes and thyroid function. Epinephrine concentrations increased across fasts and norepinephrine concentrations were higher in males than in females. Significant variation in stress hormone concentrations with gender and life-history stage emphasizes the importance of contextual variables when interpreting serum hormone concentrations. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Short TitleGen. Comp. Endocrinol.
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