INSTITUTO DE DIVERSIDAD Y ECOLOGIA ANIMAL
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
State of the art knowledge in adrenocortical and behavioral responses to environmental challenges in a threatened South American ratite: Implications to in situ and ex-situ conservation
LÈCHE, ALVINA; MARIN, RAÚL H.; NAVARRO, JOAQUÍN LUIS; VERA CORTEZ, MARILINA; DELLA COSTA, NATALIA S.; MARTELLA, MÓNICA B.
GENERAL AND COMPARATIVE ENDOCRINOLOGY
ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE
Año: 2018 vol. 273 p. 52 - 52
The Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) is an endemic ratite to South America, whose wild populations have undergone a remarkable decrease due to habitat degradation and fragmentation by the expansion of the agricultural frontier, poaching and predation by dogs. Anthropogenic perturbations in wild environments, as well as the management in captivity, can generate different stress responses in this species, thus, the monitoring of adrenocortical and behavioral activities are considered primary assessment tools with both conservation and welfare implications. In this review we analyze and integrate the different measurements of glucocorticoids (in plasma, feces, and yolk) carried out in different captive and wild populations, taking into account the diverse predictable and unpredictable conditions to which the Greater Rhea responds in each of those environments. In addition, the translocation of this bird is presented as an application of stress physiology in field ecology for conservation purposes, in which we evaluated how this species responds when it is released into a novel environment. Our results indicate that this ratite has a striking high sensitivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis compared to that of other bird species and shows a wide variety of adrenocortical responses depending on the environment in which it lives. This suggests that its HPA axis has a phenotypic plasticity that enables the rhea to cope with the environmental challenges. In this sense, we propose that one of the routes of this plasticity could be mediated by the maternal transfer of steroid hormones to the egg. Finally, we discuss the importance of integrating the monitoring of the adrenocortical response along with the environmental variables that define the life history of the species, in management and conservation programs ex-situ and in situ.