Diagnosing domoic acid toxicosis in the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) using behavioral criteria: A novel approach

Christiana Wittmaack, Garet P. Lahvis, Edward O. Keith, Caryn Self-Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

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 48hr 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-320
Number of pages7
JournalZoo Biology
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnosing domoic acid toxicosis in the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) using behavioral criteria: A novel approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this