Non-invasive physiological measurements in wild animals

27 Nov 2019 - 10:45
Amanda Bourne takes notes as the babblers weigh themselves on a portable scale in return for a small food reward. Photo credit: Halcyone Muller


Just like us, when animals experience stress, they show a physiological response in the body. This response can take many forms – an elevated heart rate, higher metabolic rate, an increase in circulating stress hormones (called cortisol in most mammals, including humans, and corticosterone in reptiles and birds) or, when heat stressed, a heightened risk of dehydration.

Studying these responses in animals can tell us a lot about how much environmental stress animals can tolerate, helping to improve our understanding of animal biology and inform conservation management actions. PhD student Amanda Bourne (UCT) and Honours student Emma Jepsen (UP) have been developing and testing non-invasive methods for measuring physiological responses in wild birds.

Read the full article on their work in Quest magazine here