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Evaluating stress physiology and parasite infection parameters in the translocation of critically endangered woylies (Bettongia penicillata)

Hing, S., Northover, A.S., Narayan, E.J., Wayne, A.F., Jones, K.L., Keatley, S., Thompson, R.C.A. and Godfrey, S.S. (2017) Evaluating stress physiology and parasite infection parameters in the translocation of critically endangered woylies (Bettongia penicillata). EcoHealth, 14 (S1). pp. 128-138.

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Translocation can be stressful for wildlife. Stress may be important in fauna translocation because it has been suggested that it can exacerbate the impact of infectious disease on translocated wildlife. However, few studies explore this hypothesis by measuring stress physiology and infection indices in parallel during wildlife translocations. We analysed faecal cortisol metabolite (FCM) concentration and endoparasite parameters (nematodes, coccidians and haemoparasites) in a critically endangered marsupial, the woylie (Bettongia penicillata), 1–3 months prior to translocation, at translocation, and 6 months later. FCM for both translocated and resident woylies was significantly higher after translocation compared to before or at translocation. In addition, body condition decreased with increasing FCM after translocation. These patterns in host condition and physiology may be indicative of translocation stress or stress associated with factors independent of the translocation. Parasite factors also influenced FCM in translocated woylies. When haemoparasites were detected, there was a significant negative relationship between strongyle egg count and FCM. This may reflect the influence of glucocorticoids on the immune response to micro- and macro-parasites. Our results indicate that host physiology and infection patterns can change significantly during translocation, but further investigation is required to determine how these patterns influence translocation success.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: © 2017 International Association for Ecology and Health
United Nations SDGs: Goal 15: Life on Land
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