Fat dynamics and development of body condition indices for harvested populations of wolverine Gulo gulo
Authors: Robitaille, Jean-François; Villano, Liane; Jung, Thomas S.; Slama, Helen P.; Oakley, Michelle P.
Source: Wildlife Biology, Volume 18, Number 1, March 2012 , pp. 35-45(11)
Publisher: Nordic Board for Wildlife Research
Abstract:Sufficient energy reserves are crucial to the overwinter survival of northern non-hibernating mustelids. We sought a reliable index of body condition (fatness) in harvested populations of wolverine Gulo gulo, based on the relationship between fatness and the mass of distinct fat depots extractable by necropsy. Fatness did not differ significantly between genders or winter months, nor was it significantly related to body size or age. Using a first group of 18 males and 14 females, we developed predictive least-square linear regressions between fat depots (popliteal, sternal, omentum, mesenteric and perirenal) and fatness (g fat/100 g body mass) using skinned carcasses provided by fur trappers in the Yukon, Canada. Fatness was consistently better predicted in females than in males. Fatness was best predicted by the sternal fat depot (R2 = 0.73) in males and by the omentum as well as sternal fat depots in females (R2 = 0.94 and 0.87, respectively). We then compared known fatness and fatness predicted from regressions of the sternal fat depot using a second group of 14 males and nine females, and mean fatness did not differ significantly. We suggest that, due to its ease of extraction and predictive power, the sternal fat depot is a valid fat index with both sexes of wolverine, although it (or any other fat depot) should be used with caution with males, which seem more prone to obesity. This new index will help wildlife managers monitor changes in body condition of wolverines in response to changes in environmental conditions.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2012-03-01
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