Blood chemistry in southern elephant seal mothers and pups during lactation reveals no effect of handling

Georg H. Engelhard, Ailsa J. Hall, Sophie M. J. M. Brasseur, Peter J. H. Reijnders

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Serum clinical chemistry parameters were examined in lactating southern elephant seal Mirounga leonina mothers and their pups from the declining Macquarie Island population. There were significant changes in serum values from 2 to 21 days postpartum in both nursing mothers (increase: inorganic phosphate; decrease: creatinine, potassium, chloride, cholesterol, total protein, albumin, globulin, aspartate aminotransferase, creatine kinase) and suckling pups (increase: inorganic phosphate, globulin, cholesterol; decrease: albumin, alkaline phosphatase, gammaglutamyl transferase; increase followed by decrease: triglycerides, iron). We found no evidence that changes were due to chronic stress effects caused by repeated chemical immobilisations (mothers) or physical restraint (pups): at late lactation, clinical chemistry values were similar for mother-pup pairs of a control group (not handled previously), moderate treatment group (previously handled twice) and high treatment group (previously handled three to four times). We were not able to detect differences in clinical chemistry values between mother-pup pairs distributed over two areas differing in the frequency of human visits. The clinical chemistry values presented here can serve as reference ranges to allow future comparison with other southern elephant seal populations to investigate factors, e.g. food limitation, suspected to be involved in population declines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2002

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