During 1997–1999, we collected serum samples from 156 common eider (Somateria mollissima) females incubating eggs in the Finnish archipelago of the Baltic Sea. We used serum chemistry profiles to evaluate metabolic changes in eiders during incubation and to compare the health and nutritional status of birds nesting at a breeding area where the eider population has declined by over 50% during the past decade, with birds nesting at two areas with stable populations. Several changes in serum chemistries were observed during incubation, including (1) decreases in serum glucose, total protein, albumin, β-globulin, and γ-globulin concentrations and (2) increases in serum uric acid, creatine kinase, and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations. However, these changes were not consistent throughout the 3-yr period, suggesting differences among years in the rate of carbohydrate, lipid, and protein utilization during incubation. The mean serum concentrations of free fatty acids, glycerol, and albumin were lowest and the serum α- and γ-globulin levels were highest in the area where the eider population has declined, suggesting a role for nutrition and diseases in the population dynamics of Baltic eiders.
Additional Publication Details
Use of serum biochemistry to evaluate nutritional status and health of incubating common eiders (Somateria mollissima) in Finland