[MARMAM] New publication: Visual-only assessment of skin lesions on bottlenose dolphins - Reliability and utility of quantitative tools (Christina Toms)

Christina Toms toms.christinan at gmail.com
Thu Feb 27 07:56:07 PST 2020

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce that the following
article is now available online

Toms, C. N., Stone, T., and Och-Adams, T. (2020). Visual-only assessments
of skin lesions on free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins (*Tursiops
truncatus*); Reliability and utility of quantitative tools. *Marine Mammal
Science, *1-30. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12670.


Photo analysis offers a simple, non-invasive approach to
characterizing and quantifying skin lesions in cetaceans; however,
this process involves methodological considerations that have often
gone unaddressed or have varied in approach among investigators.
Subjectivity associated with classifying skin lesion types of unknown
etiology and quantifying measures of skin lesion prevalence and extent
from photo data raises questions about observer bias and agreement
(i.e., interrater reliability), which are often ignored. The purpose
of the present study was to improve upon data quality control and
assessment practices when studying skin lesions using only photo data.
Specifically, we tested interrater reliability of a skin lesion
classification system, compared methods of quantifying skin lesion
extent, and determined the validity of the dorsal fin as a proxy for
skin lesions on the entire body. Acceptable levels of interrater
reliability were achieved for only 7 of 17 defined lesion types but
reliability was high for the two tested measures of lesion extent.
Skin lesion extent measured from the dorsal fin alone was not a decent
proxy for the whole visible surface; disparities between measures were
as high as 43%. We discuss the potential pitfalls discovered and
provide recommendations for others attempting similar approaches.

Please, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions

Christina Toms
PhD, Postdoctoral Scientist
Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
Chicago Zoological Society

Office: 941-388-4441 ext. 375
Cell: 808-990-1931
ctoms at mote.org
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