U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Mathewson, P.D., K.C. Hanson-Dorr, W.P. Porter, S.J. Bursian, K.M. Dean, K. Healy, K. Horak, J.E. Link, K.E. Harr, and B.S. Dorr. 2018. Experimental and modeled thermoregulatory costs of repeated sublethal oil exposure in the Double-crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus. Marine Pollution Bulletin 135:216-223. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.07.003


U.S. government work.


To fully understand the impact of oil exposure, it is important to understand sublethal effects like how increased thermoregulatory costs may affect survival and reproduction. However, it is difficult and time-consuming to measure these effects in wild animals. We present a novel use of a bioenergetics model, Niche Mapper™, to estimate thermoregulatory impacts of oiling, using data from captive Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) experimentally exposed to oil. Oiled cormorants had significant increases in surface body temperatures following exposure. Niche Mapper accurately predicted surface temperatures and metabolic rates for unoiled and oiled cormorants and predicted 13–18% increased daily energetic demands due to increased thermoregulatory costs of oiling, consistent with increased food consumption observed in experimentally oiled cormorants. We show that Niche Mapper can provide valuable insight into sublethal oiling effects by quantifying the extent to which thermoregulatory costs divert energy resources away from important life processes like maintenance, reproduction and migration.

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