[MARMAM] New publication posting

Rosalind Rolland rrolland at neaq.org
Tue Jan 2 11:51:42 PST 2018

Dear MARMAM community,

My co-authors and I have recently published the following paper in Endangered Species Research:

Fecal glucocorticoids and anthropogenic injury and mortality in North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis
Rosalind M. Rolland, William A. McLellan, Michael J. Moore, Craig A. Harms, Elizabeth A. Burgess, Kathleen E. Hunt

ABSTRACT: As human impacts on marine ecosystems escalate, there is increasing interest in quantifying sub-lethal physiological and pathological responses of marine mammals. Glucocorticoid hormones are commonly used to assess stress responses to anthropogenic factors in wildlife. While obtaining blood samples to measure circulating hormones is not currently feasible for free-swimming large whales, immunoassay of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (fGCs) has been validated for North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis (NARW). Using a general linear model,
we compared fGC concentrations in right whales chronically entangled in fishing gear (n = 6) or live-stranded (n = 1), with right whales quickly killed by vessels (n = 5) and healthy right whales (n = 113) to characterize fGC responses to acute vs. chronic stressors. fGCs in entangled whales (mean ± SE: 1856.4 ± 1644.9 ng g−1) and the stranded whale (5740.7 ng g−1) were significantly higher than in whales killed by vessels (46.2 ± 19.2 ng g−1) and healthy whales (51.7 ± 8.7 ng g−1). Paired feces and serum collected from the live-stranded right whale provided comparison of fGCs
in 2 matrices in a chronically stressed whale. Serum cortisol and corticosterone in this whale (50.0 and 29.0 ng ml−1, respectively) were much higher than values reported in other cetaceans, in concordance with extremely elevated fGCs. Meaningful patterns in fGC concentration related to acute vs. chronic impacts persisted despite potential for bacterial degradation of hormone metabolites in dead whales. These results provide biological validation for using fGCs as a biomarker of chronic stress in NARWs.

This paper is open access and is available here:


Rosalind M. Rolland D.V.M.
Senior Scientist
Anderson-Cabot Center for Ocean Life
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110
rrolland at neaq.org<mailto:rrolland at neaq.org>

Research Faculty
School for the Environment
University of Massachusetts-Boston


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