Special Issue "Assessing the Environmental Adaptation of Wildlife and Production Animals: Applications of Physiological Indices and Welfare Assessment Tools"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Edward Narayan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Queensland
Interests: animal welfare; conservation biology; conservation physiology; neuroendocrinology; production animal health and welfare; reproductive health; stress; immune system; zoology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Wild animals under human care as well as domesticated farm production animals are often exposed to environmental changes (e.g., capture and transportation). Short-term or acute changes in physiological indices (e.g., heart rate, respiration, body temperatures, immune cells and stress hormonal biomarkers) provide crucial information regarding the responses of animals to novel environments, and they could provide crucial determining factors for the long-term health and welfare of animals. This Special Issue welcomes experimental research papers that demonstrate the applications of physiological indices and welfare assessment methods (e.g., morphological and morphometric data, behavioural assessments, thermal profiles, and physiological markers) in any wildlife or production animal (e.g., rescued and rehabilitating animals, pets, competition animals, farm animals and zoo animals), in response to environmental and management related factors. The goal is to provide examples of new research and techniques that can be used to monitor short- and long-term environmental adaptation of animals under human care.

Dr. Edward Narayan
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • welfare
  • physiology
  • immune function
  • metabolism
  • behaviour
  • fitness
  • body condition
  • reproduction
  • health
  • survival
  • zoos
  • farms
  • rescue and rehabilitation
  • veterinary assessment

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Circadian Rhythm of Salivary Immunoglobulin A and Associations with Cortisol as A Stress Biomarker in Captive Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus)
Animals 2020, 10(1), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010157 - 17 Jan 2020
Abstract
Salivary immunoglobulin A (sIgA) has been proposed as a potential indicator of welfare for various species, including Asian elephants, and may be related to adrenal cortisol responses. This study aimed to distinguish circadian rhythm effects on sIgA in male and female Asian elephants [...] Read more.
Salivary immunoglobulin A (sIgA) has been proposed as a potential indicator of welfare for various species, including Asian elephants, and may be related to adrenal cortisol responses. This study aimed to distinguish circadian rhythm effects on sIgA in male and female Asian elephants and compare patterns to those of salivary cortisol, information that could potentially have welfare implications. Subjects were captive elephants at an elephant camp in Chiang Mai province, Thailand (n = 5 males, 5 females). Salivette® kits were used to collect saliva from each elephant every 4 h from 06:00 to 22:00 h for 3 consecutive days (n = 15 samples/elephant). Enzyme immunoassays were used to quantify concentrations of IgA and cortisol in unextracted saliva. Circadian rhythm patterns were determined using a generalized least-squares method. Both sIgA and cortisol followed a circadian rhythm, although the patterns differed. sIgA displayed a daily quartic trend, whereas cortisol concentrations demonstrated a decreasing linear trend in concentrations throughout the day. There was no clear relationship between patterns of sIgA and salivary cortisol, implying that mechanisms of control and secretion differ. Results demonstrate for the first time that circadian rhythms affect sIgA, and concentrations follow a daily quartic pattern in Asian elephants, so standardizing time of collection is necessary. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Progesterone and Cortisol Levels in Blood and Hair of Wild Pregnant Red Deer (Cervus Elaphus) Hinds
Animals 2020, 10(1), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010143 - 16 Jan 2020
Abstract
The red deer (Cervus elaphus L., 1758) is one of the largest deer species in the world. Females are seasonal polyestrous, with negative photoperiod: the increase of the night peak of melatonin determines the secretion of GnRH and, therefore, LH and FSH. [...] Read more.
The red deer (Cervus elaphus L., 1758) is one of the largest deer species in the world. Females are seasonal polyestrous, with negative photoperiod: the increase of the night peak of melatonin determines the secretion of GnRH and, therefore, LH and FSH. To date there is little information regarding the hormonal control during pregnancy for this species; this could be due to the difficulty of sampling wild subjects, while farmed animals’ hormonal concentrations may not reflect the physiology of the animal in a natural state. In this study we evaluated the concentration of cortisol and progesterone, extracted from blood and hair, on 10 wild and pregnant red deer females. Belonging to the population of the Bolognese Apennines (Italy), the hinds were sampled in the January–March 2018 period, according to the regional selective hunting plan. Plasma progesterone (P4) ranged from a minimum of 1.9 to a maximum of 7.48 ng/mL; while hair P4 concentrations varied from 41.68 to 153.57 pg/mg. The plasma and hair cortisol ranges are respectively 0.4–2.97 ng/mL and 0.03–0.55 pg/mg; the only significant correlation was found between hair concentration of P4 and the date of death. The results of this preliminary study represent a small step towards a better knowledge of this species’ physiology during pregnancy. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Development and Implementation of Baseline Welfare Assessment Protocol for Captive Breeding of Wild Ungulate—Punjab Urial (Ovis vignei punjabiensis, Lydekker 1913)
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1102; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121102 - 09 Dec 2019
Abstract
To ensure that captive breeding and other associated programs are more robust and sustainable, it is of utmost importance to ensure optimum welfare. Although it is well known that standard welfare is crucial for successful captive breeding, there is still a lack of [...] Read more.
To ensure that captive breeding and other associated programs are more robust and sustainable, it is of utmost importance to ensure optimum welfare. Although it is well known that standard welfare is crucial for successful captive breeding, there is still a lack of welfare assessment protocols for wild species. The current study aimed to develop a leading baseline welfare assessment protocol for assessing welfare in captive Punjab urial. This protocol is based on the welfare protocol for domestic sheep from the Welfare Quality® project, coupled with all the information obtained from the published literature on the species’ biology and ecology. This protocol consists of 4 principles, 12 criteria, and 31 animal- and resource-based indicators. The protocol was tested and applied to three different herds of Punjab urial at two different facilities. Initial results showed that some areas need to be improved for better captive breeding and management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Using Thermal Imaging to Monitor Body Temperature of Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in A Zoo Setting
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1094; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121094 - 06 Dec 2019
Abstract
Non-invasive techniques can be applied for monitoring the physiology and behaviour of wildlife in Zoos to improve management and welfare. Thermal imaging technology has been used as a non-invasive technique to measure the body temperature of various domesticated and wildlife species. In this [...] Read more.
Non-invasive techniques can be applied for monitoring the physiology and behaviour of wildlife in Zoos to improve management and welfare. Thermal imaging technology has been used as a non-invasive technique to measure the body temperature of various domesticated and wildlife species. In this study, we evaluated the application of thermal imaging to measure the body temperature of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in a Zoo environment. The aim of the study was to determine the body feature most suitable for recording a koala’s body temperature (using coefficient of variation scores). We used a FLIR530TM IR thermal imaging camera to take images of each individual koala across three days in autumn 2018 at the Wildlife Sydney Zoo, Australia. Our results demonstrated that koalas had more than one reliable body feature for recording body temperature using the thermal imaging tool—the most reliable features were eyes and abdomen. This study provides first reported application of thermal imaging on an Australian native species in a Zoo and demonstrates its potential applicability as a humane/non-invasive technique for assessing the body temperature as an index of stress. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Parasite Load and Site-Specific Parasite Pressure as Determinants of Immune Indices in Two Sympatric Rodent Species
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1015; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121015 - 22 Nov 2019
Abstract
Wildlife is exposed to parasites from the environment. This parasite pressure, which differs among areas, likely shapes the immunological strategies of animals. Individuals differ in the number of parasites they encounter and host, and this parasite load also influences the immune system. The [...] Read more.
Wildlife is exposed to parasites from the environment. This parasite pressure, which differs among areas, likely shapes the immunological strategies of animals. Individuals differ in the number of parasites they encounter and host, and this parasite load also influences the immune system. The relative impact of parasite pressure vs. parasite load on different host species, particularly those implicated as important reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens, is poorly understood. We captured bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) at four sites in the Netherlands. We sampled sub-adult males to quantify their immune function, infestation load for ecto- and gastrointestinal parasites, and infection status for vector-borne microparasites. We then used regression trees to test if variation in immune indices could be explained by among-site differences (parasite pressure), among-individual differences in infestation intensity and infection status (parasite load), or other intrinsic factors. Regression trees revealed splits among sites for haptoglobin, hemagglutination, and body-mass corrected spleen size. We also found splits based on infection/infestation for haptoglobin, hemolysis, and neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio. Furthermore, we found a split between species for hemolysis and splits based on body mass for haptoglobin, hemagglutination, hematocrit, and body-mass corrected spleen size. Our results suggest that both parasite pressure and parasite load influence the immune system of wild rodents. Additional studies linking disease ecology and ecological immunology are needed to understand better the complexities of host–parasite interactions and how these interactions shape zoonotic disease risk. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Measuring Faecal Glucocorticoid Metabolites to Assess Adrenocortical Activity in Reindeer
Animals 2019, 9(11), 987; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110987 - 18 Nov 2019
Abstract
Several non-invasive methods for assessing stress responses have been developed and validated for many animal species. Due to species-specific differences in metabolism and excretion of stress hormones, methods should be validated for each species. The aim of this study was to conduct a [...] Read more.
Several non-invasive methods for assessing stress responses have been developed and validated for many animal species. Due to species-specific differences in metabolism and excretion of stress hormones, methods should be validated for each species. The aim of this study was to conduct a physiological validation of an 11-oxoaetiocholanolone enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for measuring faecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) in male reindeer by administration of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH; intramuscular, 0.25 mg per animal). A total of 317 samples were collected from eight male reindeer over a 44 h period at Tverrvatnet in Norway in mid-winter. In addition, 114 samples were collected from a group of reindeer during normal handling and calf marking at Stjernevatn in Norway. Following ACTH injection, FCM levels (median and range) were 568 (268–2415) ng/g after two hours, 2718 (414–8550) ng/g after seven hours and 918 (500–6931) ng/g after 24 h. Levels were significantly higher from seven hours onwards compared to earlier hours (p < 0.001). The FCM levels at Stjernevatn were significantly (p < 0.001) different before (samples collected zero to two hours; median: 479 ng/g) and after calf marking (eight to ten hours; median: 1469 ng/g). Identification of the faecal samples belonging to individual animals was conducted using DNA analysis across time. This study reports a successful validation of a non-invasive technique for measuring stress in reindeer, which can be applied in future studies in the fields of biology, ethology, ecology, animal conservation and welfare. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Towards Non-Invasive Methods in Measuring Fish Welfare: The Measurement of Cortisol Concentrations in Fish Skin Mucus as a Biomarker of Habitat Quality
Animals 2019, 9(11), 939; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110939 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Cortisol levels in fish skin mucus have shown to be good stress indicators in farm fish exposed to different stressors. Its applicability in free-ranging animals subject to long-term environmental stressors though remains to be explored. The present study was therefore designed to examine [...] Read more.
Cortisol levels in fish skin mucus have shown to be good stress indicators in farm fish exposed to different stressors. Its applicability in free-ranging animals subject to long-term environmental stressors though remains to be explored. The present study was therefore designed to examine whether skin mucus cortisol levels from a wild freshwater fish (Catalan chub, Squalius laietanus) are affected by the habitat quality. Several well-established hematological parameters and cortisol concentrations were measured in blood and compared to variations in skin mucus cortisol values across three habitats with different pollution gradient. Fluctuations of cortisol in skin mucus varied across the streams of differing habitat quality, following a similar pattern of response to that detected by the assessment of cortisol levels in blood and the hematological parameters. Furthermore, there was a close relationship between cortisol concentrations in skin mucus and several of the erythrocytic alterations and the relative proportion of neutrophils to lymphocytes. Taken together, results of this study provide the first evidence that skin mucus cortisol levels could be influenced by habitat quality. Although results should be interpreted with caution, because a small sample size was collected in one studied habitat, the measurement of cortisol in skin mucus could be potentially used as a biomarker in freshwater fish. Full article
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