Sex, seasonal, and stress-related variations in elasmobranch corticosterone concentrations

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Serum corticosterone was previously studied in numerous elasmobranch fishes (sharks, skates and rays), but the role of this steroid, widespread throughout many taxa, has yet to be defined. The goal of this study was to test whether corticosterone varied in response to acute and chronic capture stress, and across the reproductive cycle in the bonnethead shark, Sphyrna tiburo, and Atlantic stingray, Dasyatis sabina. Serum corticosterone in S. tiburo increased following capture and again 24 h post-capture, possibly caused by interference with 1α-hydroxycorticosterone, the primary stress hormone in elasmobranchs. Higher serum concentrations in males compared to females were observed in both species. Variations in corticosterone also occurred during the reproductive cycle in both species. Consistent with other taxa, elevations in male bonnethead sharks and stingrays coincided with peak testicular development and mating. Elevations in female bonnethead sharks occurred from the time of mating through sperm storage into early gestation. In contrast, corticosterone levels in female stingrays were low during their protracted mating season, but elevated through late gestation and parturition. These results indicate that corticosterone has a limited role, if any, in acute and chronic stress associated with capture in S. tiburo, but likely has physiological functions associated with its glucocorticoid properties across the reproductive cycle of both species. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology

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