Age determination and establishment of reproductive condition from marine mammal biopsy sampling
A B S T R A C T
Management of marine mammals is often constrained by limited knowledge of
reproductive variables and / or age-specific survival rates. I reviewed the use of
analyses of tissue samples obtained through biopsy sampling to determine
reproductive condition or age of marine mammals, free-ranging cetaceans in
particular. Literature searches show that reproductive condition has been
successfully determined from blubber biopsies for one species, while no study
used such biopsies to determine ages of individuals. I suggest that hormonal
assays using muscle or blubber tissue obtained from biopsies could easily be
used to determine reproductive condition. However, a study needs to be
conducted to define age-related changes in selected hormones if hormonal
assays of tissues obtained from biopsies are to be used in marine mammal age
determination.

Keywords: marine mammals, age determination, reproductive condition,
biopsy sampling, conservation management.

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