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Although certain stress hormones are crucial to survival under conditions of acute stress, these same hormones can negatively impact health when animals become chronically stressed. Methods to measure the impact of chronic stress, as it relates to health and welfare of marine wildlife, are lacking. Researchers will assess the ability of novel biomarkers to measure chronic stress in porpoises. Analysis of these biomarkers in tandem with pertinent environmental information, such as population density and presence of off-shore wind parks or pollution, will be used to identify factors responsible for chronic stress in porpoises and related species, including dolphins and whales. Findings will help researchers refine marine wildlife management strategies and inform welfare policies.

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Utrecht University
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Heidi Lesscher, MB, PhD
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