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Sex and species differences of stress markers in sympatric cheetahs and leopards in Namibia

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Physiological stress markers may provide valuable insight for our understanding of costs of given life-history strategies or of wildlife health condition, most importantly in case of threatened species. In the last decade, there has been growing interest in the ecological relevance of cellular oxidative stress, which would provide complimentary information to that obtained by the classic analyses of glucocorticoid hormones. In this study, we analysed the sex and species variation of five blood-based markers of oxidative status, both molecular oxidative damage and antioxidant protection, in sympatric cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and leopards (Panthera pardus) living on Namibian farmlands. Both these terrestrial carnivores are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. We found that female cheetahs had significantly higher serum reactive oxygen metabolites of non-protein origin and lower glutathione peroxidase activity in whole blood than both male and female leopards and male cheetahs. We also found that cheetahs and leopards differed in the association between the two antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. Correlations among oxidative status markers were stronger in female cheetahs than leopards or male cheetahs. Our results suggest that female cheetahs are more sensitive to local sources of stress. Our work did not corroborate the assumption that two species with different life histories consistently differ in key physiological traits.
Journal: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A : Molecular & Integrative Physiology
ISSN: 1095-6433
Volume: 227
Pages: 8 - 13
Publication year:2019
Keywords:Biochemistry/biophysics/molecular biology, Physiology, Animal sciences