Friday, September 5, 2008

Aww, mouse lemur's first haircut.

You can get a lot of information from a capture, so we really try to maximize the time that the mouse lemur has so generously donated to us. One of the samples that we take is a small cut of hair to evaluate long-term environmental stress. This is a fairly new technique in hormone analysis that will hopefully be able to show us the residual stress hormone levels (glucocorticoids) in the mouse lemur’s body over a long period of time. In many previous studies, researchers have successfully evaluated stress hormone levels in fecal or blood samples, which provide a picture of stress from the previous day or hours, respectively, but with hair one can evaluate stress on a longer scale, on the time frame of several months. That’s what I’m really interested in—how long-term environmental stress affects wildlife and may compromise their ability to deal with human exposure and increased rates of parasitism.

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