Lizabeth Kashinsky

Honolulu University, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

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Publications (8)17.99 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Ciguatoxins are potent algal neurotoxins that concentrate in fish preyed upon by the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi). The only report for Hawaiian monk seal exposure to ciguatoxins occurred during a 1978 mortality event when two seal liver extracts tested positive by mouse bioassay. Ciguatoxins were thus proposed as a potential threat to the Hawaiian monk seal population. To reinvestigate monk seal exposure to ciguatoxins we utilized more selective detection methods, the Neuro-2A cytotoxicity assay, to quantify ciguatoxin activity and an analytical method LC-MS/MS to confirm the molecular structure. Tissue analysis from dead stranded animals revealed ciguatoxin activity in brain, liver, and muscle, whereas analysis of blood samples from 55 free-ranging animals revealed detectable levels of ciguatoxin activity (0.43 to 5.49 pg/mL P-CTX-1 equiv) in 19% of the animals. Bioassay-guided LC fractionation of two monk seal liver extracts identified several ciguatoxin-like peaks of activity including a peak corresponding to the P-CTX-3C which was confirmed present by LC-MS/MS. In conclusion, this work provides first confirmation that Hawaiian monk seals are exposed to significant levels of ciguatoxins and first evidence of transfer of ciguatoxin to marine mammals. This threat could pose management challenges for this endangered marine mammal species.
    Environmental Science & Technology 06/2011; 45(12):5403-9. · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Twinning is extremely rare in pinnipeds. Instances in which a female is observed simultaneously nursing 2 pups may represent alloparenting, or nonfilial nursing, a relatively common trait in pinnipeds. We explored the incidence of twinning in the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi). We observed 7 sets of putative twins (i.e., an isolated female nursing 2 newborn pups) of 4,965 total births recorded between 1983 and 2008 (minimum twinning rate = 0.1%). Genetic specimens from the mother and both pups were available only for 5 of the 7 sets. Microsatellite genotyping revealed all of these to be dizygotic twins, with low probability of false assignment (P < 0.001). On average, Hawaiian monk seal twins were less likely to survive to weaning than singletons born in the same year and on the same island (P = 0.008). Those that weaned were smaller in size (i.e., axillary girths 1—4 SDs lower than singletons). In the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal twinning appears to be a rare trait that results in overall lower survival rates but also offers a small opportunity for stock enhancement.
    Journal of Mammalogy 04/2011; 92(2):336-341. · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) was developed by using a whole-cell antigen from a marine Brucella sp. isolated from a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). The assay was designed to screen sera from multiple marine mammal species for the presence of antibodies against marine-origin Brucella. Based on comparisons with culture-confirmed cases, specificity and sensitivity for cetacean samples tested were 73% and 100%, respectively. For pinniped samples, specificity and sensitivity values were 77% and 67%, respectively. Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi; n  =  28) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus; n  =  48) serum samples were tested, and the results were compared with several other assays designed to detect Brucella abortus antibodies. The comparison testing revealed the marine-origin cELISA to be more sensitive than the B. abortus tests by the detection of additional positive serum samples. The newly developed cELISA is an effective serologic method for detection of the presence of antibodies against marine-origin Brucella sp. in marine mammals.
    Journal of veterinary diagnostic investigation: official publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc 11/2010; 22(6):856-62. · 1.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyzed blubber and blood samples for organochlorines (OCs) from 158 Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) at four of their six primary breeding colonies in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Levels of OCs in blubber were lower in adult females compared to juveniles or adult males, evidently owing to the transfer of these lipophilic compounds to pups by pregnant and lactating females. Concentrations of SigmaPCBs and p,p'-DDE in blubber generally increased with age until seals were sexually mature and then continued to increase with age in males after puberty. Average levels of PCBs and PCB toxic equivalents (TEQs) in blubber were significantly higher in adult male and juvenile seals at Midway Atoll than the same age class of seals at the other colonies. Unlike concentrations of OCs in blubber, circulating levels of OCs in blood did not vary consistently among age classes of seals or among breeding colonies. Though the concentrations of OCs measured in Hawaiian monk seals were generally equal to or lower than those reported for other pinniped species in the North Pacific Ocean, they were high enough in a few seals to potentially affect their health.
    Marine Pollution Bulletin 03/2008; 56(2):231-44. · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As part of conservation efforts between 1997 and 2001, more than 25% (332 animals) of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) population was sampled in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Serum samples were tested for antibodies to viruses, bacteria, and parasites known to cause morbidity and mortality in other marine mammal species. Antibodies were found to phocine herpesvirus-1 by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, but seropositive results were not confirmed by virus neutralization test. Antibodies to Leptospira bratislava, L. hardjo, L. icterohaemorrhagiae, and L. pomona were detected in seals from several sites with the microagglutination test. Antibodies to Brucella spp. were detected using 10 conventional serologic tests, but because of inconsistencies in test results and laboratories used, and the lack of validation by culture, the Brucella serology should be interpreted with caution. Antibodies to B. canis were not detected by card test. Chlamydophila abortus antibodies were detected by complement fixation (CF) test, and prevalence increased significantly as a function of age; the low sensitivity and specificity associated with the CF make interpretation of results difficult. Antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii and Dirofilaria immitis were rarely found. There was no serologic evidence of exposure to four morbilliviruses, influenza A virus, canine adenovirus, caliciviruses, or other selected viruses. Continuous surveillance provides a means to detect the introduction or emergence of these or other infectious diseases, but it is dependent on the development or improvement of diagnostic tools. Continued and improved surveillance are both needed as part of future conservation efforts of Hawaiian monk seals.
    Journal of wildlife diseases 05/2007; 43(2):229-41. · 1.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We studied morphometric, hematology, and serum chemistry variables in 140 Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) to establish normal baseline values for these variables among free-living seals. We compared seals at French Frigate Shoals (FFS), Midway Atoll (MID), and Pearl and Hermes Reef (PHR) because these subpopulations differ in their rates of population recovery. Dorsal standard length and axillary girth differed significantly between immature (1–4 yr old) and adult (≥5 yr old) seals among sex and island subgroups. Immature seals at FFS were shorter than those at MID and PHR; adult seals at FFS had smaller dorsal standard lengths and axillary girths compared to the other subpopulations. The differences in size were more pronounced among adult females. Significant differences were also found for hematology and serum chemistry variables among seals at FFS, MID, and PHR. Monk seals at FFS had an absolute lymphopenia and eosinopenia compared to those at MID and PHR, compatible with a stress response. Seals at FFS also had lower blood urea nitrogen than seals at PHR, and a lower plasma potassium than seals at MID or PHR. Monk seals had an absolute and relative eosinophilia compared to previously published values. Analysis of subpopulation differences is useful for population health assessment and for long-term monitoring of an endangered species.
    Marine Mammal Science 08/2006; 20(4):851 - 860. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    Marine Mammal Science 01/2006; 22(2):465-471. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    Aquatic Mammals 01/2006; 32(2):157-167. · 0.70 Impact Factor