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Volume 5, Issue 1
EISSN 2051-1434


Conservation Physiology in Action


Mammals with a carotid rete are capable of reducing brain temperature below that of carotid blood temperature, termed selective brain cooling. In artiodactyls, selective brain cooling conserves body water and may provide them with a selective advantage in conditions of increased temperature and aridity.

The term ‘Anthropocene’ describes Earth's current geological period, which is characterized by human-induced changes to our atmosphere, geology and biodiversity. Although the narrative surrounding the fate of the world's species and ecosystems is often negative, many researchers are calling for strategies that can contribute to a ‘good Anthropocene’. We outline how the field of conservation physiology can infuse optimistic perspectives, pragmatic approaches and heightened public engagement into this pursuit.

Here, we provide an overview of how physiological research supports evidence-based conservation management of coral reef fishes. In recent years, this connection has improved, but the implementation of management based on physiological findings still needs better advocacy to result in effective conservation of coral reef fish populations and ecosystems.

Research articles

In this study, we examined the pathophysiological consequences likely to be attributable to a herpesvirus infection for immune function, corticosterone, telomere length and inflammation. We found that the plasma concentration of haptoglobin was strongly associated with the observable clinical manifestation of disease and could predict probabilities of survival.

Aerobic metabolic capacity was similar between juvenile Chinook salmon reared at 15 and 19°C and showed little change with acute warming to 23°C.

In free-ranging pigmy rattlesnakes, clinical signs of snake fungal disease varied seasonally and were negatively correlated with energetic status and mean air temperature. Severely infected snakes were in poor body condition but did not show deficits in innate immune function. Innate immunocompetence varied seasonally, but not in association with costly life-history stages.

Relict leopard frogs, Rana [Lithobates] onca, once thought extinct, are confined to five known warm spring habitats along the Colorado River in Nevada. We evaluated the effects of temperature on developmental time, survival to metamorphosis and body mass at metamorphosis of captive-bred tadpoles. Highest survival and shortest time to metamorphosis were obtained at temperatures between 25 and 30°C, indicating that temperature is an important consideration for reintroduction site selection.

We evaluated concentrations of plasma lipids in four large, free-ranging shark species via non-lethal biopsies for the purposes of improving our understanding of their nutritional ecology and for assessing the utility of biopsies in future monitoring studies of the energetics and metabolism in shark populations.

Non-invasive hormone monitoring was used to monitor reproductive hormone metabolites in dhole (Cuon alpunus) faecal samples. The findings indicate that dholes are seasonal breeders. However, the geographical origin of the animals may influence the onset of the breeding season. Finally, the study demonstrated evidence of polyoestrus in the female.


Concentrations of the chemical pentosidine in the bodies of endotherms are highly correlated with age, providing a useful biomarker for ageing individuals and potentially for assessing demographic structure in endangered populations. In this first study of pentosidine in an ectotherm, we found only a weak correlation in a turtle.


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