[MARMAM] [New Publication] Pairing Sighting Histories with Endocrine Markers to Assess Stress In Humpback Whales

Kelly Cates kacates at alaska.edu
Mon Jul 6 16:57:11 PDT 2020

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of a new
manuscript in General and Comparative Endocrinology:

Cates, K. A., Atkinson, S., Pack, A. A., Straley, J. M., Gabriele, C. M., &
Yin, S. (2020). Corticosterone in Central North Pacific Male Humpback
Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae): Pairing Sighting Histories with Endocrine
Markers to Assess Stress. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 113540.

Developing a better understanding of the stress response is critical to
ensuring the health and sustainability of marine mammal populations.
However, accurately measuring and interpreting a stress response in
free-ranging, large cetaceans is a nascent field. Here, an enzyme
immunoassay for corticosterone was validated for use in biopsy samples from
male humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Analyses were conducted on
247 male North Pacific humpback whale blubber samples, including 238
non-calves and 9 calves that were collected on the Hawaiian breeding and
Southeast Alaskan feeding grounds from 2004 to 2006. Significant
relationships were found when corticosterone concentrations were examined
by year, age class and distribution between locations. When examined by
year, corticosterone concentrations for male humpback whales were higher in
Hawaii in 2004 than in 2005 and 2006 (p < 0.05). Corticosterone
concentration also varied by age class with initially high concentrations
at birth which subsequently tapered off and remained relatively low until
sexual maturity was reached around age 8–10 years. Corticosterone
concentrations appeared to peak in male humpback whales around 15–25 years
of age. Blubber biopsies from Alaska and Hawaii had similar mean
corticosterone concentrations, yet the variability in these samples was
much greater for whales located in Hawaii. It is clear that much work
remains to be done in order to accurately define or monitor a stress
response in male humpback whales and that specific attention is required
when looking at age, sex, and yearly trends. Our results suggest that a
stress response may be most impacted by age and yearly oceanographic
conditions and needs to be initially examined at the individual level.

The URL can be found here
please contact kacates at alaska.edu to request a copy of the manuscript.

*Kelly Cates, *PhD Student
College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
Juneau Fisheries Division, University of Alaska Fairbanks

'May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the
most amazing view'* ><((((º>`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.><((((º>`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.><((((º>*
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