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Non-invasive monitoring of adrenocortical activity in European badgers (Meles meles) and effects of sample collection and storage on faecal cortisol metabolite concentrations

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For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Netherlands Journal of Zoology (Vol 18-52).

Due to the increasing demand for methods to quantify adrenal activity in response to stressors in wild animals, we evaluated whether stimulation with adrenocorticopic hormone (ACTH) increases faecal cortisol metabolite levels in European badgers. We also conducted several experiments to evaluate the effect of storage time and collection methods on cortisol metabolite levels of faecal samples. Faecal samples were collected from five captive European badgers (Meles meles) and cortisol metabolites were quantified by an enzyme immunoassay. Faecal cortisol metabolite levels increased 1-2 days after ACTH injection and dropped to pre-treatment levels 3 days after ACTH stimulation. We found that cortisol metabolite levels were not affected by the 8-hour time lapse from collection in the field until freezing of faecal samples, environmental exposure (temperature 25.66 ± 2.55°C; range 21.20-32.20) or mean relative humidity 62.77 ± 9.90% (range 42.00-79.00). Cortisol metabolites were not homogenously distributed in the scats. Cortisol metabolite levels were significantly lower when faecal extracts and samples were frozen for long periods of time (14 weeks or more). Thus, the measurement of faecal cortisol metabolites is a suitable method for the non-invasive evaluation of adrenocortical activity in European badgers. However, some aspects related to the collection and storage of faecal samples should be considered in future studies conducted with this species.

Affiliations: 1: 1Unidad de Zoología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, c/ Darwin 2, Campus Universitario de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain; 2: 2Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación, Escuela Superior de Ciencias Experimentales y Tecnología, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, c/ Tulipán s/n, 28933 Móstoles, Madrid, Spain; 3: 3Comparative Pain Research Laboratory, Dept. of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University (NCSU), 4700 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA; 4: 4Departament de Biologia Animal, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Avinguda Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

10.1163/157075612X642914
/content/journals/10.1163/157075612x642914
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2012-01-01
2016-12-09

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