Circulating Nutrients in Free-Living Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti), Guanay Cormorants (Phalacrocorax bougainvilliorum), and Peruvian Pelicans (Pelecanus thagus) From Punta San Juan, Peru
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Hillary E. Allgood1,2, MS; Michael J. Adkesson3, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (Zoo Health Management); Matthew C. Allender4, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM; Andrea J. Fascetti5, VMD, PhD; Susana Cárdenas-Alayza6, MSc; Marco Cardeña6; Ellen S. Dierenfeld7, PhD; Sharon L. Deem1, DVM, PhD, DACZM
1Institute for Conservation Medicine, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 3Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL, USA; 4Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA; 5Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 6Punta San Juan Program, Center for Environmental Sustainability, Cayetano Heredia University, Lima, Peru; 7Ellen S. Dierenfeld, LLC Comparative Animal Nutrition Consulting, Saint Louis, MO, USA


Resource competition with commercial fisheries and changes in prey availability related to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events have adversely effected Humboldt penguins (HP, Spheniscus humboldti), Guanay cormorants (GC, Phalacrocorax bougainvilliorum), and Peruvian pelican (PP, Pelecanus thagus) populations within the Humboldt Current marine ecosystem along coastal Peru. Ecosystem effects from environmental and human impacts can result in decreased population sizes and decline in immune function, fecundity, and overall species’ health. To establish reference data, we measured circulating nutrients (fat-soluble vitamins A and E, four carotenoids, five trace minerals [Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb, Zn], 13 free fatty acids, and 31 amino acids) in 40 HP, 40 GC, and 35 PP from Punta San Juan, Peru. Reference data were established for all parameters. We determined statistically significant differences in nutrient status between species, sexes, and body weight. Peruvian pelicans displayed lower retinol concentrations (0.48±0.07 µg/ml) than other species (GC 0.67±0.15 µg/ml; HP 0.67±0.13 µg/ml), whereas HP had the highest vitamin E concentrations (11.93±1.57 µg/ml), and lowest of all carotenoids (0.04±0.02 µg/ml) compared with GC (5.70±1.87 µg/ml) and PP (10.24±2.55 µg/ml). Copper concentrations were higher in HP (603.98±123.40 ng/ml) than GC (352.33±98.85 ng/ml) or PP (214.97±19.81 ng/ml). Zinc concentrations were lower in GC than both HP and PP. These results provide reference data on circulating nutrient concentrations to evaluate variation in foraging strategy and prey base that exists across species, as well as temporospatial variation that may result from anthropogenic or ENSO climate-based causes.


We thank the volunteers and staff from the Punta San Juan Program for their assistance with this project, as well as Dr. Zengshou Yu, Dr. Kevin McGraw, and Dr. Kevin Fritsche for their help and expertise. This project was supported by the Saint Louis Zoo and Chicago Zoological Society, with additional grant support from the Saint Louis Field Research for Conservation Fund and Chicago Board of Trade Endangered Species Fund. We acknowledge the Peruvian government agencies SERNANP for access inside the RNSIIPG-Punta San Juan reserve and AGRORURAL for use of field facilities.


Speaker Information
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Hillary E. Allgood, MS
Institute for Conservation Medicine
Saint Louis Zoo
Saint Louis, MO, USA

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