Haematological and biochemical reference intervals for wild green turtles (Chelonia mydas): a Bayesian approach for small sample sizes

Kophamel, Sara, Rudd, Donna, Ward, Leigh C., Shum, Edith, Ariel, Ellen, Mendez, Diana, Starling, Jemma, Mellers, Renee, Burchell, Richard K., and Munns, Suzanne L. (2022) Haematological and biochemical reference intervals for wild green turtles (Chelonia mydas): a Bayesian approach for small sample sizes. Conservation Physiology, 10 (1).

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Animal health is directly linked to population viability, which may be impacted by anthropogenic disturbances and diseases. Reference intervals (RIs) for haematology and blood biochemistry are essential tools for the assessment of animal health. However, establishing and interpreting robust RIs for threatened species is often challenged by small sample sizes. Bayesian predictive modelling is well suited to sample size limitations, accounting for individual variation and interactions between influencing variables. We aimed to derive baseline RIs for green turtles (Chelonia mydas) across two foraging aggregations in North Queensland, Australia, using Bayesian generalized linear mixed-effects models (n=97). The predicted RIs were contained within previously published values and had narrower credible intervals. Most analytes did not vary significantly with foraging ground (76%, 22/29), body mass (86%, 25/29) or curved carapace length (83%, 24/29). Length and body mass effects were found for eosinophils, heterophil:lymphocyte ratio, alkaline phosphatase, aspartate transaminase and urea. Significant differences between foraging grounds were found for albumin, cholesterol, potassium, total protein, triglycerides, uric acid and calcium:phosphorus ratio. We provide derived RIs for foraging green turtles, which will be helpful in future population health assessments and conservation efforts. Future RI studies on threatened species would benefit from adapting established veterinary and biomedical standards.

Item ID: 75807
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2051-1434
Keywords: wildlife health, sea turtles, population assessment, blood analysis, baseline values, Australia
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Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press and the Society for Experimental Biology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Supplementary material can be accessed from https://academic.oup.com/conphys/article/10/1/coac043/6633265#supplementary-data

Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation (SWR), Queensland Department of Environment and Science
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.25903/9rm7-k267
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2022 22:48
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300910 Veterinary pathology @ 35%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300904 Veterinary diagnosis and diagnostics @ 35%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310907 Animal physiological ecology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280101 Expanding knowledge in the agricultural, food and veterinary sciences @ 35%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 35%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 30%
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