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The relationship between handling time and cortisol release rates changes as a function of brain parasite densities in California killifish Fundulus parvipinnis

Authors

  • K. L. Weinersmith,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA, U.S.A.
    • Author to whom correspondence should be addressed at present address. BioSciences Department, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, U.S.A. Tel.: +1 713 348 2619; email: Weinersmith@Rice.edu

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  • A. F. Hanninen,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, U.S.A.
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    • Present address: Cardio-Renal Physiology and Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, U.S.A.
  • A. Sih,

    1. Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA, U.S.A.
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  • R. McElreath,

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA, U.S.A.
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    • Present address: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
  • R. L. Earley

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, U.S.A.
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Abstract

This study validated a technique for non-invasive hormone measurements in California killifish Fundulus parvipinnis, and looked for associations between cortisol (a stress hormone) and 11-ketotestosterone (KT, an androgen) release rates and the density or intensity of the trematode parasites Euhaplorchis californiensis (EUHA) and Renicola buchanani (RENB) in wild-caught, naturally infected F. parvipinnis. In experiment 1, F. parvipinnis were exposed to an acute stressor by lowering water levels to dorsal-fin height and repeatedly handling the fish over the course of an hour. Neither parasite was found to influence cortisol release rates in response to this acute stressor. In experiment 2, different F. parvipinnis were exposed on four consecutive days to the procedure for collecting water-borne hormone levels and release rates of 11-KT and cortisol were quantified. This design examined whether F. parvipinnis perceived the water-borne collection procedure to be a stressor, while also exploring how parasites influenced hormone release rates under conditions less stressful than those in experiment 1. No association was found between RENB and hormone release rates, or between EUHA and 11-KT release rates. The interaction between EUHA density and handling time, however, was an important predictor of cortisol release rates. The relationship between handling time and cortisol release rates was negative for F. parvipinnis harbouring low or intermediate density infections, and became positive for fish harbouring high densities of EUHA.

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