BRANNAN, NAOMI,BOBBIE,LOUISE (2017) Investigating the physiological underpinnings of proactive and reactive behavioural types in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus): Trial deployment of a minimally invasive data logger for recording heart rate and heart rate variability in a wild free-ranging breeding pinniped species. Masters thesis, Durham University.
Individuals differ non-randomly in their responses to stressors, exhibiting consistent individual differences (CIDs) in behavioural and physiological coping mechanisms commonly referred to as coping styles. Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) are one of the few mammal species in which CIDs in stress responses have been documented in wild populations, though evidence thus far has been purely behavioural. Physiologically, coping styles can be distinguished by differences in the autonomic regulation of cardiac activity, which can be measured using heart rate variability (HRV).
The objectives of this study were two-fold. First, to assess the suitability of Polar® RS800CX monitors and H2/H3 sensors for conducting HRV analyses in grey seals. Second, to quantify inter-individual variation, repeatability, and reproductive performance correlates of baseline HRV.
Polar® devices were deployed successfully during the 2013 breeding season on female grey seals (N = 15) on the Isle of May, Scotland, and were capable of recording HR patterns that characterise phocid seals at rest on land. However, artefacts were widespread and biased HRV metrics. Filtration and correction protocols were able to counteract the effects of artefacts, but severely limited the amount of data available for analysis.
There were significant inter-individual differences in baseline HRV, which could not be explained by factors associated with the breeding season (e.g. percentage mass loss, day of lactation), diurnal rhythms (e.g. time of day), or stressors (e.g. days since capture). These differences in baseline HRV showed consistency across early and late lactation. Individuals appeared to separate into two groups: those with consistently lower or higher baseline HRV, characteristic of proactive and reactive coping styles, respectively. Furthermore, females with lower baseline HRV showed greater maternal transfer efficiency – though there were no associations between baseline HRV and maternal expenditure (i.e. maternal mass loss, kgday–1) or fitness outcomes (i.e. pup mass gain, kgday–1). These findings build upon previous studies on behavioural CIDs in female grey seals by providing the first preliminary evidence for physiological CIDs that are associated with maternal investment. However, due to small sample sizes, further studies are required to determine whether these findings are truly indicative of coping styles.
In their current form, the use of Polar® devices requires several caveats and further studies are needed to fully realise their potential. Future research should focus on validation against simultaneously recorded ECGs to improve artefact detection and correction, and modification to minimise the occurrence of artefacts. Despite their limitations, Polar® devices have immense potential as a minimally invasive research tool for conducting HRV analyses in the field.
|Item Type:||Thesis (Masters)|
|Award:||Master of Science|
|Keywords:||coping style; behavioural type; heart rate variability; pinniped|
|Faculty and Department:||Faculty of Science > Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of|
|Copyright:||Copyright of this thesis is held by the author|
|Deposited On:||13 Feb 2017 10:39|