Cumulative exposure to sub-lethal anthropogenic stressors can affect the health and reproduction of coastal cetaceans and hence their population viability. To date, we do not have a clear understanding of the notion of health for cetaceans in an ecological context; that is, how health status affects the ability of individuals to survive and reproduce. Here, we make use of a unique health-monitoring programme of estuarine bottlenose dolphins in South Carolina and Florida to determine de novo changes in biological pathways, using untargeted plasma metabolomics, depending on the health status of individuals obtained from veterinary screening. We found that individuals that were in a poor health state had lower circulating amino acids pointing towards increased involvement of gluconeogenesis (i.e., new formation of glucose). More mechanistic work is needed to disentangle the interconnection between health and energy metabolism in cetaceans to mediate potential metabolic constraints they may face during periods of stress.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part D: Genomics and Proteomics, Volume 42, June 2022, 100991,