Title
Measuring environmental stress in East Greenland polar bears, 1892-1927 and 1988-2009 : what does hair cortisol tell us?Measuring environmental stress in East Greenland polar bears, 1892-1927 and 1988-2009 : what does hair cortisol tell us?
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
Research group
Behavioural Ecology & Ecophysiology
Toxicological Centre
Publication type
article
Publication
Oxford,
Subject
Chemistry
Biology
Source (journal)
Environment international. - Oxford
Volume/pages
45(2012), p. 15-21
ISSN
0160-4120
ISI
000305728700003
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Hair sampled from 96 East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus) over the periods 18921927 and 19882009 was analyzed for cortisol as a proxy to investigate temporal patterns of environmental stress. Cortisol concentration was independent of sex and age, and was found at significantly higher (p < 0.001) concentrations in historical hair samples (18921927; n = 8) relative to recent ones (19882009; n = 88). In addition, there was a linear time trend in cortisol concentration of the recent samples (p < 0.01), with an annual decrease of 2.7%. The recent hair samples were also analyzed for major bioaccumulative, persistent organic pollutants (POPs). There were no obvious POP related time trends or correlations between hair cortisol and hair POP concentrations. Thus, polar bear hair appears to be a relatively poor indicator of the animal's general POP load in adipose tissue. However, further investigations are warranted to explore the reasons for the temporal decrease found in the bears' hair cortisol levels.
E-info
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