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Measuring Physiological Stress in Australian Flying-Fox Populations

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McMichael, L. A., Edson, D. and Field, H. (2014) Measuring Physiological Stress in Australian Flying-Fox Populations. EcoHealth . pp. 1-9. ISSN 1612-9202

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10393-014-0954-7


Flying-foxes (pteropid bats) are the natural host of Hendra virus, a recently emerged zoonotic virus responsible for mortality or morbidity in horses and humans in Australia since 1994. Previous studies have suggested physiological and ecological risk factors for infection in flying-foxes, including physiological stress. However, little work has been done measuring and interpreting stress hormones in flying-foxes. Over a 12-month period, we collected pooled urine samples from underneath roosting flying-foxes, and urine and blood samples from captured individuals. Urine and plasma samples were assayed for cortisol using a commercially available enzyme immunoassay. We demonstrated a typical post-capture stress response in flying-foxes, established urine specific gravity as an attractive alternative to creatinine to correct urine concentration, and established population-level urinary cortisol ranges (and geometric means) for the four Australian species: Pteropus alecto 0.5–305.1 ng/mL (20.1 ng/mL); Pteropus conspicillatus 0.3–370.9 ng/mL (18.9 ng/mL); Pteropus poliocephalus 0.3–311.3 ng/mL (10.1 ng/mL); Pteropus scapulatus 5.2–205.4 ng/mL (40.7 ng/mL). Geometric means differed significantly except for P. alecto and P. conspicillatus. Our approach is methodologically robust, and has application both as a research or clinical tool for flying-foxes, and for other free-living colonial wildlife species

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:bat flying-fox stress cortisol Australia
Subjects:Science > Zoology > Animal behaviour
Veterinary medicine > Veterinary epidemiology. Epizootiology
Live Archive:20 Jan 2015 02:37
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:50

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