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Title: Quantifying the Autonomic Response to Stressors—One Way to Expand the Definition of “Stress” in Animals
Abstract Quantifying how whole organisms respond to challenges in the external and internal environment (“stressors”) is difficult. To date, physiological ecologists have mostly used measures of glucocorticoids (GCs) to assess the impact of stressors on animals. This is of course too simplistic as Hans Seyle himself characterized the response of organisms to “noxious stimuli” using multiple physiological responses. Possible solutions include increasing the number of biomarkers to more accurately characterize the “stress state” of animal or just measuring different biomarkers to more accurately characterize the degree of acute or chronic stressors an animal is experiencing. We focus on the latter and discuss how heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) may be better predictors of the degree of activation of the sympathetic–adrenal–medullary system and complement or even replace measures of GCs as indicators of animal health, welfare, fitness, or their level of exposure to stressors. The miniaturization of biological sensor technology (“bio-sensors” or “bio-loggers”) presents an opportunity to reassess measures of stress state and develop new approaches. We describe some modern approaches to gathering these HR and HRV data in free-living animals with the aim that heart dynamics will be more integrated with measures of GCs as bio-markers of more » stress state and predictors of fitness in free-living animals. « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Integrative and Comparative Biology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
113 to 125
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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