[MARMAM] New Publication: Seasonal variation in harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) blubber cortisol - A novel indicator of physiological state?

Joanna Kershaw jk49 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Tue Mar 29 04:35:28 PDT 2016

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following paper:

Kershaw, J. L. Hall, A. J. 2016. Seasonal variation in harbour seal (*Phoca
vitulina*) blubber cortisol - A novel indicator of physiological state?
Scientific Reports. 6: doi:10.1038/srep21889.

This article can be downloaded at: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep21889.

ABSTRACT: Cortisol is one of the main glucocorticoid hormones involved in
both the mammalian stress response, and in fat metabolism and energy
regulation, making it of increasing interest as a biomarker for stress,
health and overall physiological state. However, transient stress responses
to animal handling and sampling may be important sources of measurement
artefact when investigating circulating concentrations of this hormone in
wildlife. Here, cortisol concentrations were measured in the plasma and,
for the first time, in the blubber of live captured adult harbour seals (*Phoca
vitulina*). Plasma cortisol concentrations were positively correlated with
capture time, suggesting that they were largely driven by a stress response
to the capture event. In contrast, blubber cortisol concentrations were
shown not to be significantly affected by capture time and varied
significantly by sex and by season, with higher concentrations during
natural fasting periods of their life cycle, particularly during the moult.
These results suggest that cortisol may play a key role in increased fat
metabolism during highly energetically demanding periods, and that blubber
concentrations have the potential to be used as physiological state
indicators in phocid seals.

Best wishes,

Joanna Kershaw
Joanna Kershaw

PhD Student
Sea Mammal Research Unit
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB
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