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Investigations of stress in different mammals - pinnipeds (harbour and grey seals) and cattle

Projectdata

Project leader: Prof. Prof. h. c. Dr. Ursula Siebert, Prof. Dr. Marion Piechotta
Scientific work: veterinarian Neele Gundlach
Project term: June 2013 until Nov. 2015
Cooperation partner: Endocrinologic Laboratory, Clinic for Cattle University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (Prof. Dr. Marion Piechotta)

Project description

The permanent changes in the immediate environment of mammals by so-called “environmental stress” have become an important part of veterinary research. The term “environmental stress” in general describes every change in the environment (stressor) of an individual which exceeds the normal capacity of reaction and therefore demands a certain effort of adaptation (Swietlik 2008, Evans 1982). Possible examples are changes in noise or light, crowding-effects, variations in temperature, pollution, frequent contact with animals or humans as well as a restricted supply of food or space. “Environmental stress” on one hand may result in an alteration of behavior, metabolism and/or hormonal status. In other cases it can also even lead to an increased susceptibility to infections (e.g. parasite infestation) or chronic diseases due to a maladaption of the organism.

 

Within the scope of a doctoral research study our investigations of the impact of such stress will be concentrated on wild aquatic animals as well as aquatic and terrestrial animals which are habituated to human handling. In these groups we want to develop and quantify new matrices as well as parameters beside known and already established parameters and sample materials (e.g. blood for the analysis of cortisol and catecholamines). The new parameters should feature some of the following characteristics: unaffected by sudden changes, accumulate variations of especially hormones over a certain time (e.g. cortisol concentration in hair) and reflect the immunological modifications due to a stress situation.

 

The different laboratory tests will be carried out in cooperation with the Endocrinologic Laboratory of the Clinic for Cattle at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (director of laboratory Prof. Dr. Marion Piechotta,) the Institute for doping analysis and sport chemistry Dresden, as well as the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW, director of institute Prof. Dr. Ursula Siebert), University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation.

 

The results will further be used to establish and verify a stress index. This index should be based, amongst others, on the investigated immunological and endocrinological changes of healthy and diseased cattle and pinnipeds.         

 

These findings can be useful for prognostic and diagnostic quantification of “environmental stress” in different mammals. Possible areas of application may be an early detection of susceptibility to infection in dairy cows, as well as determination and differentiation of possible stressors in captive and wild marine animals.

Contact person

Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research
Werftstr. 6
25761 Büsum

 

Prof. Prof. h.c. Dr. Ursula Siebert

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Anschrift
Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research
Werftstr. 6
25761 Büsum
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