1. bookVolume 20 (2020): Issue 1 (January 2020)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2300-8733
First Published
25 Nov 2011
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Assessment of Cortisol and DHEA Concentrations in Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) Feathers to Evaluate its Allostatic Load

Published Online: 28 Jan 2020
Volume & Issue: Volume 20 (2020) - Issue 1 (January 2020)
Page range: 85 - 96
Received: 08 Mar 2019
Accepted: 02 Aug 2019
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2300-8733
First Published
25 Nov 2011
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

The use of a non-invasive approach to collect biological samples from natural populations represents a great means of gathering information while avoiding handling animals. Even if corticosterone is the main glucocorticoid investigated in birds, there has been observed a proportional direct link between corticosterone and cortisol concentrations. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can be produced by the adrenal cortex and should have prominent antiglucocorticoid properties also in birds. The aim of this study was to verify if there is any difference in the cortisol and DHEA feather concentrations between clinically normal and physiologically compromised Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) through the non-invasive approach of collecting moulted feathers without having to pluck them from the bird. The study was carried out using 8 physiologically compromised (PC) Griffons and 9 clinically normal Griffons considered as the control (CTRL) group that were necropsied or from the wildlife rehabilitation centre. Primary and secondary covert feathers were either collected directly from the birds’ cage floors, or, in the case of dead Griffons, they were plucked off the animals. The results, obtained by RIA, revealed that both cortisol (P<0.01) and DHEA (P<0.05) feather concentrations were higher in the PC than in the CTRL group. No difference was observed by comparing the cortisol/DHEA ratio between the two evaluated groups (P=0.15). Pearson’s correlation coefficients showed no correlation between feather hormone concentrations in the PC group (r=0.01, P=0.96) while a positive correlation in the CTRL group (r=0.65, P=0.006) was observed. In conclusion, our study reveals that moulted feathers can be a non-invasive and an interesting tool to evaluate the allostatic load of wild birds and they allowed better understanding the relationship between hormones of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and the physiological status of the birds.

Keywords

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