Health diagnostics of wildlife have historically relied on the evaluation of select serum biomarkers and the identification of a contaminant or pathogen burden within specific tissues as an indicator of a level of insult. However, these approaches fail to measure the physiological reaction of the individual to stressors, thus limiting the scope of interpretation. Gene-based health diagnostics provide an opportunity for an alternate, whole-system, or holistic assessment of health, not only in individuals or populations but potentially in ecosystems. Seabirds are among the most threatened marine taxonomic groups in the world, with ~25% of this species currently listed as threatened or considered of special concern; among seabirds, the penguins (Family Spheniscidae) are the most threatened seabird Family. We used gene expression to develop baseline physiological indices for wild penguins in the Falkland-Malvinas Islands, and captive zoo penguins. We identified the almost complete statistical separation of penguin groups (gentoo Detroit Zoo, gentoo Falkland-Malvinas Islands, rockhopper Detroit Zoo, and rockhopper Falkland-Malvinas Islands) based on gene expression profiles. Implementation of long-term longitudinal studies would allow for the assessment of temporal increases or decreases of select transcripts and would facilitate interpretation of the drivers of change.
- Falkland-Malvinas Islands
- Wildlife monitoring
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Space and Planetary Science