Title

Diagnosing Domoic Acid Toxicosis in the California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) Using Behavioral Criteria: A Novel Approach

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-2015

Publication Title

Zoo Biology

Keywords

Domoic acid, California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, Diagnostics, Behavior, Pseudonitzschia, HABs

ISSN

0733-3188

Volume

34

Issue/No.

4

First Page

314

Last Page

320

Abstract

Domoic acid toxicosis in the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) is difficult to diagnose using presence of toxin alone because the duration of domoic acid presence in blood and urine is generally less than 48 hr following exposure. Because domoic acid toxicosis is often suggested by presentation of behavioral abnormalities, we asked whether assessment of behavior might be useful for diagnostic purposes. We developed an ethogram to categorize behavioral data collected via continuous focal animal sampling. In total, 169 subjects were observed at a rehabilitation center. Sea lions with domoic acid toxicosis displayed head weaving (P < 0.0001) and muscle fasciculations (P < 0.01) significantly more often than animals in a comparison group. Dragging hind flippers and swift scanning were observed exclusively in animals from the domoic acid toxicosis group. The data show that behavioral diagnostic criteria can be effective in the diagnosis of domoic acid toxicosis in the California sea lion.

Comments

©2015 Wiley Periodicals Inc.

Additional Comments

Oregon Sea Grant award #: NA06OAR4170059; NOAA National Sea Gratn College Program project #: R/BT-50-PD

DOI

10.1002/zoo.21217

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