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Keywords:

  • avian ecology;
  • corticosterone;
  • fecal metabolites;
  • fecal steroids;
  • glucocorticoids;
  • sample storage

ABSTRACT  Fecal corticosterone metabolites are commonly used in avian ecology as a measure of response to stress. Recent research on mammals suggested that the manner in which samples are stored could be critical to alleviating any storage handling bias. Cross-reacting metabolites can increase glucocorticoid metabolites even after samples are frozen and, thus, result in an overestimation of hormone levels as the time increases between when samples were collected and when levels are measured. We examined effects of sample storage time on fecal corticosterone metabolites for 2 avian species across 165 days. We observed no change in fecal corticosterone metabolites across the sampling periods in either fulvous whistling-ducks (Dendrocygna bicolor) or white ibis (Eudocimus albus). Results suggest that avian fecal corticosterone metabolite levels do not change when samples are frozen for long periods of time and that there were no differences in the response between the 2 species we compared. This study demonstrated that avian fecal corticosterone samples are accurate even after freezing and, thus, studies that seek to address conservation questions may rely on these data. Studies of additional bird species are needed to generalize our findings to other avian taxa.