Biomarkers of oxidative status : missing tools in conservation physiology
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
, p. 1-16
University of Antwerp
Recent ecological studies have shown that oxidative status could have a significant impact on fitness components in wild animals. Not only can oxidative status reflect the environmental conditions that animals experience, but it can also predict their chances of reproduction and survival in the future in their natural habitat. Such important characteristics make markers of oxidative status informative tools to evaluate a priori individual perspectives of reproduction and survival as well as to assess a posteriori the effect of human activities on the fitness of species of conservation concern and wildlife in general. Markers of oxidative status may therefore help conservation practitioners to identify conservation threats to animal populations and to maximize the success of wildlife management. Despite these potential benefits for animal conservation programmes, up to now markers of oxidative status have only been reported anecdotally in conservation studies. The aim of this review is therefore to raise awareness by conservation practitioners of the use of markers of oxidative status. Towards this end, we first describe how environmental disruptions due to human activities can translate into variation in oxidative status. Second, we show how individual and population variation in oxidative status may contribute to the success or the failure of reintroduction or translocation programmes. Finally, we emphasize the technical features specific to the measurement of markers of oxidative status in conservation programmes, which may help investigators with the interpretation of their results. Such prior knowledge about markers of oxidative status may encourage conservation physiologists to use them in order to enhance the success of conservation programmes and wildlife management.