Clinical Pathology of the Vulnerable Gough Moorhen ( Gallinula comeri )

M.p. Dagleish, P.g. Ryan, S. Girling, M. Ghazali, A.l. Bond

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    The Gough moorhen (Gallinula comeri) is native to Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha, and listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to its restricted range and susceptibility to introduced predators. A planned ecosystem restoration by eradication of introduced house mice (Mus musculus) via aerially delivered rodenticide requires a reproductively balanced population of Gough moorhens to be held in captivity to avoid primary and secondary poisoning. To aid disease detection during the period of captivity, Gough moorhens (n = 43; 25 adult females and 18 adult males) were captured, measured and sampled to determine ease of sexing by morphometrics, to establish reference ranges for routine haematological and biochemical parameters and to identify any intestinal and haemoparasites as well as determine which faecal bacteria were present. Male Gough moorhens had significantly greater mean body mass (P = 0.019) and head and bill length (P = 0.001) compared with females, but the overlapping ranges showed genetic identification of sex was required for accurate determination. Plasma globulin and total protein concentrations were significantly greater in female compared with male birds (P = 0.032 and P = 0.012, respectively) and probably related to egg yolk production. No haemoparasites or gastrointestinal parasites were found in any bird and there were no sex-related differences in the haematology. Multiple bacterial taxa were isolated from the faeces of all birds including Enterococcus spp. (n = 42), Klebsiella spp. (n = 40), Staphylococcus aureus (n = 33), Staphylococcus intermedius (n = 16), Escherichia coli (n = 41) and Pseudomonas spp. (n = 7). No clinical or subclinical disease was found in any of the birds examined, suggesting they are suitable for short-term captivity but rapid on-island genetic-based sex determination will be essential to ensure a reproductively balanced population.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)246-255
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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