Abstract # 13320 Event # 78:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 22, 2019 04:00 PM-04:15 PM: (Room 209) Symposium


A. N. Edes1,2 and D. E. Crews2
1Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, MRC 5534, 1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA, 2The Ohio State University
     Animal welfare researchers frequently measure glucocorticoids (e.g., cortisol in primates) to assess physiological responses to various events, from new enclosures and enrichment to introductions and transport. However, intra- and inter-individual variation in glucocorticoid responses can make interpretations difficult. Glucocorticoids also may not be well-suited for studying welfare in the long-term, such as the effects of stress on reproductive success, health, and lifespan. Estimating allostatic load provides a new, more holistic method for assessing welfare. Allostatic load is the systemic physiological dysregulation that accumulates over the lifespan in response to senescence and stressful events. It is estimated using allostatic load indices (ALIs), which combine biomarkers from across physiological systems (e.g., neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, metabolic, immune) into a single score. Although applied to humans for over two decades, ALIs are a recent innovation in primate research. Our studies in zoo-housed gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) have demonstrated age, sex, cumulative stressful events, parity, and rearing history predict allostatic load. Furthermore, higher allostatic load in gorillas was associated with increased disease and mortality risk. Drawing upon this research, we will demonstrate the accessibility of allostatic load methodology and provide resources for those interested in incorporating these methods into their research by: 1) describing methods for estimating allostatic load, 2) suggesting where ALIs may be applied in studies of primate welfare, and 3) providing recommendations on developing ALIs in new species.