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Biochemical and biological validations of a faecal glucocorticoid metabolite assay in mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx)

Lavin, Shana R. and Woodruff, Miles C. and Atencia, Rebeca and Cox, Debby and Woodruff, Glenn T. and Setchell, Joanna M. and Wheaton, Catharine J. (2019) 'Biochemical and biological validations of a faecal glucocorticoid metabolite assay in mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx).', Conservation physiology., 7 (1). coz032.


Stress is a major factor in determining success when releasing endangered species into the wild but is often overlooked. Mandrills (Mandrills sphinx) are vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss and demand for bush meat and the pet trade. To help bolster in situ populations, rehabilitated rescued mandrills recently were released into a protected area in the Republic of Congo. The goal of this study was to validate the use of faecal glucocorticoid metabolite enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) in mandrills and test field-friendly faecal hormone extraction techniques that can subsequently be used to monitor the stress physiology and welfare of mandrills throughout the release process. Using faecal samples collected from ex situ mandrills, we tested cortisol, corticosterone, 11β-hydroxyetiocholanolone (69a), and 11-oxoetiocholanolone EIAs. Absolute concentrations, hormone profiles following medical procedures or translocation, and high-performance liquid chromatography fraction immunoreactivity showed that the 69a assay was the best choice to monitor the stress response in this species. Samples with delayed extraction or drying times had 40–80% lower 69a concentrations than samples extracted immediately post-collection and frozen. The 69a EIA is an appropriate assay for monitoring welfare in this species in situ or ex situ, and results indicated that consistent extraction methods are important for accurate comparisons.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press and the Society for Experimental Biology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:16 May 2019
Date deposited:16 October 2019
Date of first online publication:05 September 2019
Date first made open access:16 October 2019

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