Many ecological studies use stress hormones to assess the condition, health or disturbance levels of wild organisms. Common blood sampling protocols for this research involve trapping individuals and taking blood within three minutes to obtain a "baseline" for analysis of stress hormones ("conventional method"). In some situations it may be difficult to get an accurate measure of baseline values; therefore, alternative sampling techniques may be preferable. We compared corticosterone levels in samples taken via a newly developed, minimally invasive blood sampling technique with corticosterone levels in blood taken via the conventional method. We collected samples from incubating adult common terns Sterna hirundo via blood sucking bugs (Heteroptera, Triatominae) contained in "dummy eggs" ("bug method") and compared measured corticosterone concentrations to concentrations in blood taken from the same birds using the conventional method. We found no significant differences in mean or variance of baseline corticosterone levels between samples collected via the different methods. This suggests that the bug method offers a viable alternative for hormone sampling.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology