[MARMAM] New publication: End-lactation syndrome (ELS) in southern sea otters

Sarah Chinn sarahchinn at gmail.com
Sun May 15 17:43:17 PDT 2016


Hello,

My co-authors and I are excited to announce our recent publication, "The
High Cost of Motherhood: End-Lactation Syndrome in Southern Sea Otters
(*Enhydra
lutris nereis*) on the Central Coast of California, USA" in Journal of
Wildlife Diseases.

Full citation: Chinn, S. M., Miller, M. A., Tinker, M. T., Staedler, M. M.,
Batac, F. I., Dodd, E. M., & Henkel, L. A. (2016). THE HIGH COST OF
MOTHERHOOD: END-LACTATION SYNDROME IN SOUTHERN SEA OTTERS (ENHYDRA LUTRIS
NEREIS) ON THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA COAST, USA. *Journal of wildlife diseases*,
*52*(2), 307-318.

The paper can be downloaded here:
http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.7589/2015-06-158

Or, please request a copy, sarahchinn at gmail.com

Abstract:
Sea otters (*Enhydra lutris*) have exceptionally high energetic
requirements, which nearly double during lactation and pup care. Thus,
females are extremely vulnerable to caloric insufficiency. Despite a number
of compensatory strategies, the metabolic challenge of reproduction
culminates in numerous maternal deaths annually. Massive depletion of
energy reserves results in a case presentation that we define as
end-lactation syndrome (ELS), characterized by moderate to severe
emaciation not attributable to a concurrent, independent disease process in
females dying during late pup care or postweaning. We compiled detailed
data for 108 adult female southern sea otters (*Enhydra lutris nereis*)
examined postmortem that stranded in California, US, 2005–12, and assessed
pathology, reproductive status, and the location and timing of stranding.
We introduce simple, grossly apparent, standardized physical criteria to
assess reproductive stage for female sea otters. We also describe ELS,
examine associated risk factors, and highlight female life history
strategies that likely optimize reproduction and survival. Our data suggest
that females can reset both the timing and energetic demands of
reproduction through fetal loss, pup abandonment, or early weaning as part
of specific physiologic checkpoints during each reproductive cycle. Females
appear to preload nutritionally during delayed implantation and gestation
to increase fitness and reproductive success. We found that ELS was a major
cause of death, affecting 56% of enrolled adult females. Peak ELS
prevalence occurred in late spring, possibly reflecting the population
trend toward fall/winter pupping. Increasing age and number of pregnancies
were associated with a higher risk of ELS. Although the proportion of ELS
females was highest in areas with dense sea otter populations, cases were
recovered throughout the range, suggesting that death from ELS is
associated with, but not solely caused by, population resource limitation.

Cheers,
Sarah Chinn
MS Candidate, Department of Biology
Sonoma State University
sarahchinn at gmail.com or chinns at sonoma.edu
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