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Scarborough, Canada

Delnatte P.,University of Guelph | Ojkic D.,University of Guelph | DeLay J.,University of Guelph | Campbell D.,Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center | And 2 more authors.
Avian Pathology | Year: 2013

Nine hundred and fifty-five pathology cases collected in Ontario between 1992 and 2011 from wild free-ranging Canada geese, trumpeter swans and mute swans were retrospectively evaluated for the pathology associated with avian bornavirus (ABV) infection. Cases were selected based on the presence of upper gastrointestinal impaction, central nervous system histopathology or clinical history suggestive of ABV infection. The proportion of birds meeting at least one of these criteria was significantly higher at the Toronto Zoo (30/132) than elsewhere in Ontario (21/823). Central, peripheral and autonomic nervous tissues were examined for the presence of lymphocytes and plasma cells on histopathology. The presence of virus was assessed by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on frozen brains and on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues. Among selected cases, 86.3% (44/51) were considered positive on histopathology, 56.8% (29/51) were positive by immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR was positive on 88.2% (15/17) of the frozen brains and 78.4% (40/51) of the formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples. Histopathological lesions included gliosis and lymphoplasmacytic perivascular cuffing in brain (97.7%), spinal cord (50%), peripheral nerves (55.5%) and myenteric ganglia or nerves (62.8%), resembling lesions described in parrots affected with proventricular dilatation disease. Partial amino acid sequences of the nucleocapsid gene from seven geese were 100% identical amongst themselves and 98.1 to 100% identical to the waterfowl sequences recently described in the USA. Although ABV has been identified in apparently healthy geese, our study confirmed that ABV can also be associated with significant disease in wild waterfowl species. © 2013 Copyright Houghton Trust Ltd.

Lavinia P.D.,Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia | Kerr K.C.R.,Toronto Zoo | Tubaro P.L.,Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia | Hebert P.D.N.,University of Guelph | Lijtmaer D.A.,Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia
Journal of Avian Biology | Year: 2016

Estimating the age of species or their component lineages based on sequence data is crucial for many studies in avian evolutionary biology. Although calibrations of the molecular clock in birds have been performed almost exclusively using cytochrome b (cyt b), they are commonly extrapolated to other mitochondrial genes. The existence of a large, standardized cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) library generated as a result of the DNA barcoding initiative provides the opportunity to obtain a calibration for this mitochondrial gene in birds. In this study we compare the evolutionary rate of COI relative to cyt b across ten different avian orders. We obtained divergence estimates for both genes from nearly 300 phylogenetically independent pairs of species through the analysis of almost 5000 public sequences. For each pair of species we calculated the difference in divergence between COI and cyt b. Our results indicate that COI evolves on average 14% slower than cyt b, but also reveal considerable variation both among and within avian orders, precluding the use of this value as a standard adjustment for the COI molecular clock for birds. Our findings suggest that this variation is partially explained by a clear negative relationship between the difference in divergence in these genes and the age of species. Distances for cyt b are higher than those for COI for closely related species, but the values become similar as the divergence between the species increases. This appears to be the result of a stronger pattern of negative time-dependency in the rate of cyt b than in that of COI, a difference that could be related to lower functional constraints on a small number of sites in cyt b that allow it to initially accumulate mutations more rapidly than COI. © 2016 Nordic Society Oikos.

Terwissen C.V.,Trent University | Mastromonaco G.F.,Toronto Zoo | Murray D.L.,Trent University
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2013

Land use changes are a significant factor influencing the decline of felid populations. However, additional research is needed to better understand how these factors influence populations in the wild. Hormone analysis can provide valuable information on the basic physiology and overall health of an animal, and enzyme immunoassays (EIA) are generally used for hair hormone analysis but must first be validated for the substrate of choice and species of interest. To date, hormone assays from hair have not been validated for Felidae, despite that the method holds considerable promise for non-invasive sampling of free-ranging animals. We sought to: (1) evaluate whether increased adrenocorticotrophin hormone (ACTH) during the period of hair growth results in elevated hair cortisol; (2) validate the enzyme immunoassay used; and (3) identify any variations in hair cortisol between age, sex and body regions, using Canada lynx. We quantified hair cortisol concentrations in captive animals through an ACTH challenge and collected samples from legally harvested lynx to compare variability between body regions. An EIA was validated for the analysis of hair cortisol. Lynx (n=3) had a qualitative increase in hair cortisol concentration following an ACTH challenge in captive animals (20. IU/kg of body weight weekly for 5. weeks), thereby supporting the use of an EIA to quantify cortisol values in hair. Based on our analysis of sampled lynx pelts, we found that hair cortisol did not vary between age and sex, but varied within the foot/leg region to a greater extent than between individuals. We recommend that future studies identify a standardized location for hair cortisol sampling. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Beauclerc K.B.,Trent University | Johnson B.,Toronto Zoo | White B.N.,Trent University
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2010

Peripheral populations of widespread species are often considered unworthy of conservation efforts; however, they may be adapted to the conditions found at the range edge and are therefore important to the future evolutionary potential of the species. Blanchard's Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi Harper, 1947) is widespread and abundant throughout the central United States, but is declining at the northern edge of its range. To assess the distinctiveness and conservation value of the northern populations, we investigated the spatial genetic structure and phylogeography of this anuran using mitochondrial control region sequences. Analysis of 479 individuals identified 101 haplotypes, with relatively low nucleotide diversity. Two moderately divergent clades were found. One was restricted to the southwest, which was probably a refugium during the Pleistocene, whereas the other occurred primarily across the north and is likely the result of post-glacial colonization. The genetic distinctiveness of northern populations indicates the potential for adaptive differences of individuals in this region relative to those in the south. We therefore conclude that conservation efforts are justified for the declining northern populations of Blanchard's Cricket Frog, and we use the spatial genetic structure described here to develop specific recommendations for this anuran.

Beauclerc K.B.,Trent University | Johnson B.,Toronto Zoo | White B.N.,Trent University
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2010

The Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) is currently composed of a single wild population on the south coast of Puerto Rico and two captive populations founded by animals from the northern and southern coasts. The main factors contributing to its decline are habitat loss, inundation of breeding ponds during storms, and impacts of invasive species. Recovery efforts have been extensive, involving captive breeding and reintroductions, habitat restoration, construction of breeding ponds, and public education. To guide future conservation efforts, genetic variation and differentiation were assessed for the two captive colonies and the remaining wild population using the mitochondrial control region and six novel microsatellite loci. Only two moderately divergent mitochondrial haplotypes were found, with one fixed in each of the southern and northern lineages. Moderate genetic variation exists for microsatellite loci in all three groups. The captive southern population has not diverged substantially from the wild population at microsatellite loci (FST = 0.03), whereas there is little allelic overlap between the northern and southern lineages at five of six loci (FST > 0.3). Despite this differentiation, they are no more divergent than many populations of other amphibian species. As the northern breeding colony may not remain viable due to its small size and inbred nature, it is recommended that a third breeding colony be established in which northern and southern individuals are combined. This will preserve any northern adaptive traits that may exist, and provide animals for release in the event that the pure northern lineage becomes extirpated. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009.

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