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Annual pattern of fecal corticoid excretion in captive Red-tailed parrots (Amazona brasiliensis)


Annual patterns of fecal corticoid excretion were analyzed in the threatened Red-tailed parrot (Amazona brasiliensis) in captivity. Corticoid concentration over the 15 months of the study (mean ± standard error, 12.6 ± 0.32 ng g−1, n = 585) was lowest around May (the southern Fall), and greatest around September (late winter), just prior to their normal breeding period. Corticoid excretion follows a seasonal pattern best explained by reproductive cycles rather than climate, although climate may be involved in the timing of corticoid excretion. Fecal corticoids also show promise as a tool to measure stress levels. We demonstrate that fecal corticoid measurement is a simple, yet efficient method for monitoring adrenocortical activity in captive, and perhaps wild, parrots. Monitoring adrenocortical activity can inform researchers about imposed stress in captivity, whether pair-bonds are forming in captive birds, and of the timing of breeding both in captivity and in nature.

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We thank the staff at the Curitiba Zoo for all their helpful assistance, and Pedro Scherer Neto and Elenise A. B. Sipinski, who shared their knowledge of the species and provided constructive criticisms of the manuscript. This research was funded by Fundação Araucária, Federal University of Paraná and Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education (SPVS). Experimental procedures were in compliance with Brazilian laws.

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Correspondence to Rosana N. Morais.

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Communicated by G. Heldmaier.

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Popp, L.G., Serafini, P.P., Reghelin, A.L.S. et al. Annual pattern of fecal corticoid excretion in captive Red-tailed parrots (Amazona brasiliensis). J Comp Physiol B 178, 487–493 (2008).

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  • Red-tailed-parrot
  • Fecal corticoids
  • Reproduction
  • Seasonality
  • Conservation