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Measuring environmental stress in East Greenland polar bears, 1892-1927 and 1988-2009: what does hair cortisol tell us?
Bechshoft, T.O.; Riget, F.F.; Sonne, C.; Letcher, R.J.; Muir, D.C.G.; Novak, M.A.; Henchey, E.; Meyer, J.S.; Eulaers, I.; Jaspers, V.L.B.; Eens, M.; Covaci, A.; Dietz, R. (2012). Measuring environmental stress in East Greenland polar bears, 1892-1927 and 1988-2009: what does hair cortisol tell us? Environ. Int. 45: 15-21. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2012.04.005
In: Environment International. Pergamon: New York. ISSN 0160-4120, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 279326 [ OMA ]

Keyword
    Ursus maritimus Phipps, 1774 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Polar bear; Hair; Cortisol; EDCs; POPs; HPA

Authors  Top 
  • Bechshoft, T.O.
  • Riget, F.F.
  • Sonne, C.
  • Letcher, R.J.
  • Muir, D.C.G.
  • Novak, M.A.
  • Henchey, E.
  • Meyer, J.S.
  • Eulaers, I., more
  • Jaspers, V.L.B., more
  • Eens, M., more
  • Covaci, A., more
  • Dietz, R.

Abstract
    Hair sampled from 96 East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus) over the periods 1892-1927 and 1988-2009 was analyzed for cortisol as a proxy to investigate temporal patterns of environmental stress. Cortisol concentration was independent of sex and age, and was found at significantly higher ) (p<0.001) concentrations in historical hair samples (1892-1927; n = 8) relative to recent ones (1988-2009; n = 88). In addition, there was a linear time trend in cortisol concentration of the recent samples (p<0.01), with an annual decrease of 2.7%. The recent hair samples were also analyzed for major bioaccumulative, persistent organic pollutants (POPs). There were no obvious POP related time trends or correlations between hair cortisol and hair POP concentrations. Thus, polar bear hair appears to be a relatively poor indicator of the animal's general POP load in adipose tissue. However, further investigations are warranted to explore the reasons for the temporal decrease found in the bears' hair cortisol levels.

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