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Effects of season, location, species, and sex on hematologic and plasma biochemical values and body mass in free-ranging Grebes (Aechmophorus species)

July 7, 2021

The effects of season, location, species, and sex on body weight and a comprehensive array of blood chemistry and hematology analytes were compared for free-ranging western (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark's (Aechmophorus clarkii) grebes. Birds (n = 56) were collected from Puget Sound, WA, and Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay, CA, from February 2007 to March 2011. The data supported generalization of observed ranges for most analytes across Aechmophorus grebe metapopulations wintering on the Pacific coast. Notable seasonal and location effects were observed for packed cell volume (winter 6% greater than fall; winter California [CA] 5% greater than Washington [WA]), total white blood cell count (CA 3.57 × 103 cells/µL greater than WA), heterophils (WA 10% greater than CA), lymphocytes (winter 19% greater than fall), heterophil to lymphocyte ratio (fall 5.7 greater than winter), basophils (CA greater than WA), plasma protein (WA about 10 g/L [1.0 g/dL] greater than CA), plasma protein to fibrinogen ratio (winter about 15 greater than fall), potassium (CA 2 mmol/L greater than WA), and liver enzymes (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase: WA greater than CA). Within California, season had a greater effect on body mass than sex (mean winter weights about 200 g greater than fall), whereas within a season, males weighed only about 80 g more than females, on average. These data give biologists and veterinarians quantitative reference values to better assess health at the individual and metapopulation level.