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Wednesday, January 31 • 8:40am - 9:00am
WATERFOWL: Developing a Plasma Lipid Metabolite Index for Canvasbacks

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AUTHORS. Andrew F. Bouton, Eric J. Smith, Christopher N. Jacques - Western Illinois University; Heath M. Hagy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Michael J. Anteau, US Geological Survey; Randy V. Smith, Illinois Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. The canvasback (Aythya valisineria) is a wetland-obligate species that feeds primarily on tubers produced by submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), moist-soil seeds, and aquatic invertebrates.  Wetland loss and degradation in stopover areas can lead to declining food resources, which in turn has direct implications for migratory waterfowl populations.  Blood plasma metabolites (i.e., triglyceride, beta-hydroxybutyrate) can provide a useful index of daily mass change in wild birds and be used to assess the forage quality of stopover habitats.  We developed an index of foraging habitat quality by measuring plasma lipid metabolite levels and daily mass change of wild canvasbacks kept for short periods in captivity (n = 30) and fasting trials (n = 30) on 60 individuals split evenly between males and females.  We collected two blood samples from each bird (i.e., 0 and 24 hr) and measured their metabolite levels using kinetic and endpoint assay.  We force fed feeding trial birds every 4 hours for a 24-hour period and provided no food for fasting birds over the same period.  Using multiple regression analyses, we determined that triglyceride and beta-hydroxybutyrate was positively and negatively related to mass change (F2,56 = 98.24, P R2 = 0.77; daily mass change = –130.22 + 52.62[TRIG] – 81.17[BOHBln]), respectively.  Our analysis revealed that sex was not an important predictor of daily mass change.  Our index can be used to predict changes in lipid reserves and assess forage quality at stopover areas (i.e., from experimentally collected birds) to guide conservation planning and wetland restoration across the upper Midwest.

Wednesday January 31, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am CST