Science on Tap: Conserving wildlife at the individual level: insights from the stress response of lead-exposed California condors

Aug 29 @ 7:30pm


* Free in the Garden

Zeka Glucs, PhD Candidate, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Department

You may have heard of the endangered California condor, our state’s namesake vulture species with its impressive nine foot wingspan. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have seen a condor soaring over Pinnacles National Park or the Big Sur coastline. You may even know that frequent lead poisonings from consumption of lead-based ammunition fragments in the condor’s carrion diet has been a major hurdle to population recovery. But did you know that these birds are trapped from the wild twice every year to test their blood lead levels? My research focuses on how California condors with different life histories and lead exposures respond to these trapping events. I measure levels of stress hormones in condor blood, poop, and feathers to observe the stress response over time. We’ll talk about how I collect these samples, my latest findings regarding stress hormones in these charismatic vultures, and the current status of the condor population.