Survival is negatively associated with glucocorticoids in a wild ungulate neonate
It is unknown how ungulate physiological responses to environmental perturbation influence overall population demographics. Moreover, neonatal physiological responses remain poorly studied despite the importance of neonatal survival to population growth. Glucocorticoid (GC) hormones potentially facilitate critical physiological and behavioral responses to environmental perturbations. However, elevated GC concentrations over time may compromise body condition and indirectly reduce survival. We evaluated baseline salivary cortisol (CORT; a primary GC in mammals) concentrations in 19 wild neonatal white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in a northern (NS) and southern (SS) area in Pennsylvania. After ranking survival models consisting of variables hypothesized to influence neonate survival (i.e. weight, sex), the probability of neonate survival was best explained by CORT concentrations, where elevated CORT concentrations were associated with reduced survival probability to 12 weeks of age. Cortisol concentrations were greater in the SS where predation rates and predator densities were lower. As the first evaluation of baseline CORT concentrations in an ungulate neonate to our knowledge, this is also the first study to demonstrate CORT concentrations are negatively associated with ungulate survival at any life stage. Glucocorticoid hormones could provide a framework in which to better understand susceptibility to mortality in neonatal white-tailed deer.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Survival is negatively associated with glucocorticoids in a wild ungulate neonate|
|Series title||Integrative Zoology|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Leetown|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|