Little is known about baseline concentrations of adrenal hormones and hormonal responses to stress in sea ducks, although significant population declines documented in several species suggest that sea ducks are exposed to increased levels of environmental stress. Such declines have been observed in geographically distinct harlequin duck populations. We performed an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) challenge to evaluate adrenal function and characterize corticosterone concentrations in captive harlequin ducks and investigated the effects of capture, surgery, and short term confinement on corticosterone concentrations in wild harlequin ducks. Harlequin ducks responded to the ACTH challenge with an average three-fold increase in serum corticosterone concentration approximately 90??min post injection, and a four- to five-fold increase in fecal glucocorticoid concentration 2 to 4??h post injection. Serum corticosterone concentrations in wild harlequin ducks increased within min of capture and elevated levels were found for several hours post capture, indicating that surgery and confinement maintain elevated corticosterone concentrations in this species. Mean corticosterone concentrations in wild harlequin ducks held in temporary captivity were similar to the maximum response levels during the ACTH challenge in captive birds. However, large variation among individuals was observed in responses of wild birds, and we found additional evidence suggesting that corticosterone responses varied between hatch year and after hatch year birds. ?? 2008.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of ACTH, capture, and short term confinement on glucocorticoid concentrations in harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology