Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Corticosterone responses to capture and restraint in Australasian Gannets, Morus serrator, at Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand

John F. Cockrem A E , E. Jane Candy A , Murray A. Potter B and Gabriel E. Machovsky-Capuska C D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.

B Institute of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.

C Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.

D Faculty of Veterinary Science, Charles Perkins Centre, School of Biological Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: J.F.Cockrem@massey.ac.nz

Emu 116(1) 86-90 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU15012
Submitted: 28 January 2015  Accepted: 12 November 2015   Published: 20 January 2016

Abstract

Birds can respond to threats or potential threats in their immediate environment with increased secretion of the glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone. The size of a corticosterone response to capture reflects the sensitivity of a bird to stimuli from its immediate environment, and there is marked variation between individual birds in their corticosterone responses. Whilst corticosterone responses to capture have been described in many species of birds, there are few reports of corticosterone responses in Australasian seabirds, and the aim of the present study was to describe individual and mean corticosterone responses to capture and restraint in Australasian Gannets (Morus serrator) at Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand. Corticosterone concentrations were low initially, then increased after capture in all gannets, with mean concentrations 55.77 ± 4.72 ng mL–1 after 30 min of restraint. This is the first report of corticosterone responses in gannets. Mean corticosterone concentrations at 30 min were within the range of responses reported for the blue-footed booby, another species within the family Sulidae, suggesting that different species of Sulidae have similar sensitivities to their immediate environment. Further studies of corticosterone in gannets and other Australasian seabirds will be worthwhile to provide information about how these seabirds can respond to changes in their environment.

Additional keywords: climate change, New Zealand birds, seabirds, stress.


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