Comparative patterns of adrenal activity in captive and wild Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) Academic Article uri icon


  • Stress and animal well-being are often assessed using concentrations of glucocorticoids (GCs), a product of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. However, GC concentrations can also be modulated by predictable events, such as changes in season or life history stage. Understanding normative patterns of adrenal activity is critical for making valid conclusions about changes in GC concentrations. In this study, we validated an assay for monitoring fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) in Canada lynx. We then used this technique to assess patterns of adrenal activity in Canada lynx across several contexts. Our results show that captive lynx have higher FGM concentrations than wild lynx, which may be related to differences in stress levels, metabolic rate, diet, or body condition. We also found that FGM concentrations are correlated with reproductive status in females, but not in males. For males, seasonal increases in FGM expression coincide with the onset of the breeding season, whereas in females, FGM increase toward the end of the breeding season. This information provides a valuable foundation for making inferences about normative versus stress-induced changes in adrenal activity in Canada lynx.


publication date

  • 2012