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A tale of two islands: evidence for impaired stress response and altered immune functions in an insular pit viper following ecological disturbance.
Conserv Physiol. 2020; 8(1):coaa031.CP

Abstract

The frequency and intensity of ecological perturbations affecting wild animal populations is expected to increase in the future with animals facing numerous global threats. Seahorse Key is a continental island off mainland Florida that has historically been a major rookery for several species of waterbirds. As a result of an unknown disturbance, the entire rookery abandoned Seahorse Key in April 2015 and shifted nesting activities to nearby Snake Key, resulting in an influx of food resources in the form of fish carrion to resident Florida cottonmouth snakes (Agkistrodon conanti), while snakes on Seahorse Key experienced a drastic reduction in food resources. Our objective was to assess plasma corticosterone concentrations, corticosterone negative feedback using dexamethasone, blood glucose, body condition, packed cell volume, natural antibody agglutination, white blood cell counts and ratios and erythrocyte sedimentation rate to characterize the long-term effects of differential resource availability in these two snake populations 3 years after this major ecological disturbance. We collected blood samples at three time points from cottonmouths on Seahorse Key (n = 6 individuals) and Snake Key (n = 13 individuals) in fall 2018. In due consideration of the small sample size, our study shows evidence that 3 years after the shift in waterbird nesting Seahorse Key cottonmouths exhibit a dampened acute stress response and presumptive impaired innate immune functions relative to cottonmouths on Snake Key. These results highlight the context-dependent nature of biomarkers and implicate the significant decrease in food resources on Seahorse Key in altering hormonal stress responses and innate immune functions, possibly leading to unknown long-term downstream effects. This study assessed the response of a wild population of pit viper to ecological disturbance in situ with the aim to improve our understanding of how animals cope with such perturbations and improve our capacity to make informed decisions for conservation.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Biology, University of Florida, 221 Carr Hall, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida, 103 Black Hall, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.Aquatic, Amphibian, and Reptile Pathology Program, Department of Comparative, Diagnostic, and Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, 2015 SW 16th Ave, Gainesville, FL, 32610, USA.Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.Department of Biology, University of Florida, 221 Carr Hall, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

32382421

Citation

Sandfoss, Mark R., et al. "A Tale of Two Islands: Evidence for Impaired Stress Response and Altered Immune Functions in an Insular Pit Viper Following Ecological Disturbance." Conservation Physiology, vol. 8, no. 1, 2020, pp. coaa031.
Sandfoss MR, Claunch NM, Stacy NI, et al. A tale of two islands: evidence for impaired stress response and altered immune functions in an insular pit viper following ecological disturbance. Conserv Physiol. 2020;8(1):coaa031.
Sandfoss, M. R., Claunch, N. M., Stacy, N. I., Romagosa, C. M., & Lillywhite, H. B. (2020). A tale of two islands: evidence for impaired stress response and altered immune functions in an insular pit viper following ecological disturbance. Conservation Physiology, 8(1), coaa031. https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/coaa031
Sandfoss MR, et al. A Tale of Two Islands: Evidence for Impaired Stress Response and Altered Immune Functions in an Insular Pit Viper Following Ecological Disturbance. Conserv Physiol. 2020;8(1):coaa031. PubMed PMID: 32382421.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - A tale of two islands: evidence for impaired stress response and altered immune functions in an insular pit viper following ecological disturbance. AU - Sandfoss,Mark R, AU - Claunch,Natalie M, AU - Stacy,Nicole I, AU - Romagosa,Christina M, AU - Lillywhite,Harvey B, Y1 - 2020/05/03/ PY - 2019/09/20/received PY - 2020/01/30/revised PY - 2020/03/18/accepted PY - 2020/5/9/entrez PY - 2020/5/10/pubmed PY - 2020/5/10/medline KW - Chronic stress KW - Florida cottonmouth KW - corticosterone KW - ecological disturbance KW - stress physiology SP - coaa031 EP - coaa031 JF - Conservation physiology JO - Conserv Physiol VL - 8 IS - 1 N2 - The frequency and intensity of ecological perturbations affecting wild animal populations is expected to increase in the future with animals facing numerous global threats. Seahorse Key is a continental island off mainland Florida that has historically been a major rookery for several species of waterbirds. As a result of an unknown disturbance, the entire rookery abandoned Seahorse Key in April 2015 and shifted nesting activities to nearby Snake Key, resulting in an influx of food resources in the form of fish carrion to resident Florida cottonmouth snakes (Agkistrodon conanti), while snakes on Seahorse Key experienced a drastic reduction in food resources. Our objective was to assess plasma corticosterone concentrations, corticosterone negative feedback using dexamethasone, blood glucose, body condition, packed cell volume, natural antibody agglutination, white blood cell counts and ratios and erythrocyte sedimentation rate to characterize the long-term effects of differential resource availability in these two snake populations 3 years after this major ecological disturbance. We collected blood samples at three time points from cottonmouths on Seahorse Key (n = 6 individuals) and Snake Key (n = 13 individuals) in fall 2018. In due consideration of the small sample size, our study shows evidence that 3 years after the shift in waterbird nesting Seahorse Key cottonmouths exhibit a dampened acute stress response and presumptive impaired innate immune functions relative to cottonmouths on Snake Key. These results highlight the context-dependent nature of biomarkers and implicate the significant decrease in food resources on Seahorse Key in altering hormonal stress responses and innate immune functions, possibly leading to unknown long-term downstream effects. This study assessed the response of a wild population of pit viper to ecological disturbance in situ with the aim to improve our understanding of how animals cope with such perturbations and improve our capacity to make informed decisions for conservation. SN - 2051-1434 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/32382421/A_tale_of_two_islands:_evidence_for_impaired_stress_response_and_altered_immune_functions_in_an_insular_pit_viper_following_ecological_disturbance L2 - https://academic.oup.com/conphys/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/conphys/coaa031 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -
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