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Changes in blood biochemistry of incubating Baltic Common Eiders (Somateria mollisima)

Abstract

In this study, we analyzed biochemical parameters and the body masses of 14 incubating Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) breeding on Christiansø in the Baltic Sea from April to May 2015. The eiders were examined and sampled on days 4 and 24, corresponding to early and late incubation. In comparison to reference values, concentrations of alkaline phosphatase (161%), phosphorus (33%), and calcium (44%) were all significantly increased on day 4 by 33–161% due to egg production (p < 0.05). On day 24, we observed a significant loss of body mass (28%) compared to day 4 (p < 0.05). The average plasma concentrations of fructosamine (1-amino-1-deoxy-d-fructose, 21%), amylase (54%), albumin (30%), and total protein declined significantly (all p < 0.05). These declines resemble those seen for other avian species in which the female is the sole incubator, suggesting reduced food intake during the incubation period. A decline in total protein and albumin from day 4 to day 24 (18–30%) is indicative of stage III protein metabolism. Nonetheless, stable concentrations of urea, sodium, and potassium suggest that the incubating females were significantly hydrated. The change in the plasma albumin:globulin ratio from day 4 (0.82) to day 24 (0.57) may imply slight immune suppression, which is supported by the observation of a mass mortality incident shortly after the studied incubation period. These biochemical observations may add to our understanding of the recurrent mortality events that strike without warning in the declining Baltic eider population.

Zusammenfassung

Veränderungen in der Blutbiochemie bei brütenden baltischen Eiderenten ( Somateria mollissima )

In dieser Studie haben wir von April bis Mai 2015 biochemische Parameter und die Körpermasse von vierzehn Eiderenten (Somateria mollissima) analysiert, die auf der Ostseeinsel ChristiansØ brüteten. Die Eiderenten wurden während der frühen (Tag 4) und späten Brutphase (Tag 24) untersucht und beprobt. Im Vergleich zu Referenzwerten nahmen die Konzentrationen von alkalischen Phosphatasen (161%), Phosphor (33%) und Kalzium (44%) an Tag 4 signifikant um 33–161% aufgrund der Eierproduktion zu (p < 0.05). An Tag 24 fanden wir im Vergleich zu Tag 4 eine signifikante Abnahme der Körpermasse (28%; p < 0.05). Im Plasma sanken die durchschnittliche Konzentrationen an Fruktosamin (1-amino-1-deoxy-d-fructose, 21%), Amylase (54%), Albumin (30%) und der Gesamtproteingehalt (alle p < 0.05). Diese Abnahmen stimmen mit denen bei anderen Vogelarten überein, bei denen nur die Weibchen brüten, was auf eine reduzierte Nahrungsaufnahme während der Brutphase schließen lässt. Eine Verringerung des Gesamtproteingehaltes und des Albumins von Tag 4 auf Tag 24 (18–30%) weist auf einen Phase-III-Metabolismus der Proteine hin. Stabile Harnstoff-, Natrium- und Kaliumkonzentrationen lassen vermuten, dass dennoch eine ausreichende Flüssigkeitszufuhr des brütenden Weibchens gegeben war. Der Unterschied im Albumin:Globulin-Verhältnis im Plasma an Tag 4 (0.82) und Tag 24 (0.57) könnte auf eine leichte Immunsuppression hindeuten. Dies würde auch durch ein beobachtetes Auftreten an Massensterben kurz nach der untersuchten Brutphase unterstützt werden. Diese biochemischen Parameter können zu unserem Verständnis über wiederkehrende Todesvorfälle beitragen, welche ohne Vorwarnung zusätzlich zum Rückgang der baltischen Eiderentenpopulation auftreten.

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Acknowledgements

For funding of the study, we acknowledge The Danish Hunters’ Association and Hunters’ Nature Fund, 15. Juni Fonden, and BONUS BALTHEALTH, which received funding from BONUS (Art. 185), the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (Miljøstyrelsen), funded jointly by the EU, Innovation Fund Denmark (grants 6180-00001B and 6180-00002B), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (grant FKZ 03F0767A), the Academy of Finland (grant 311966), and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA).

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Correspondence to Christian Sonne.

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Garbus, S., Christensen, J.P., Lyngs, P. et al. Changes in blood biochemistry of incubating Baltic Common Eiders (Somateria mollisima). J Ornithol 161, 25–33 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-019-01708-0

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Keywords

  • Health
  • Stress
  • Starvation
  • Plasma
  • Blood biochemistry
  • Body weight