Kristi L. West's research while affiliated with University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and other places

Publications (28)

Article
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Toxoplasma gondii is a significant threat to endangered Hawaiian wildlife including birds and marine mammals. To estimate the prevalence of T. gondii in stranded cetaceans from 1997 to 2021 in Hawai‘i, we tested tissues from 37 stranded spinner dolphins Stenella longirostris and 51 stranded individuals that represented 18 other cetacean species. DN...
Article
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Cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) is a global threat to cetaceans. We report a novel morbillivirus from a Fraser’s dolphin ( Lagenodelphis hosei ) that stranded in Maui, Hawaii in 2018 that is dissimilar to the beaked whale morbillivirus previously identified from Hawaii and to other CeMV strains. Histopathological findings included intranuclear inclus...
Article
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Understanding the impacts of foraging disruptions to odontocete body condition is fundamental to quantifying biological effects of human disturbance and environmental changes on cetacean populations. Here, reductions in body volume of free-ranging pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) were calculated using repeated measurements of the same individ...
Article
False killer whales are long-lived, slow to mature, apex predators, and therefore susceptible to bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Hawaiian waters are home to three distinct populations: pelagic; Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) insular; and main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) insular. Following a precipitous decline over recent...
Article
Muscle biochemistry of aquatic birds and mammals varies in accordance with swimming and diving performance, as well as with ontogeny. Similar to other odontocetes, the locomotor muscles (longissimus dorsi) of neonatal melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) have low myoglobin content (Mb; 1.06 ± 0.20 g Mb/100 g wet muscle mass; mean ± SE;...
Article
Perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAAs) are persistent in marine biota and are toxic to many species, including marine mammals. We measured the concentrations of 15 PFAAs in liver and kidney samples of 16 species of stranded cetaceans from Hawai‘i and other tropical North Pacific regions utilizing high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spect...
Article
Rehabilitation efforts for live stranded marine mammals are guided by diagnostic measures of blood chemistry and hematology parameters obtained from each individual undergoing treatment. Despite the widespread use of blood parameters, reference values are not available in the literature from healthy rough-toothed dolphins, Steno bredanensis, with w...
Article
The length of time required for postnatal maturation of the locomotor muscle (longissimus dorsi) biochemistry [myoglobin (Mb) content and buffering capacity] in marine mammals typically varies with nursing duration, but it can be accelerated by species-specific behavioral demands, such as deep-diving and sub-ice transit.We examined how the swimming...
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Cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) is considered one of the most important viral pathogens in cetaceans. CeMV outbreaks of lethal disease have repeatedly been observed in Europe, the Americas, and Australia, while large herds of gregarious species were found to be the likely reservoirs and sources of CeMV infection to susceptible species in the Atlantic...
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The impacts of anthropogenic contaminants on marine ecosystems are a concern worldwide. Anthropogenic activities can enrich trace elements in marine biota to concentrations that may negatively impact organism health. Exposure to elevated concentrations of trace elements is considered a contributing factor in marine mammal population declines. Hawai...
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Elevated levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been reported in tropical Pacific Island cetaceans and their environment. In addition, recent health concerns in cetacean populations have warranted investigation into potential physiological effects from POP exposure for this region. Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) is a candidate for examin...
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Cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) is a causative factor in epizootics that have resulted in thousands of deaths throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean since 1987, but less is known of its presence and significance in the Pacific. The first case of CeMV reported in Hawai'i was in a Longman's beaked whale that stranded in 2010. The initial CeMV sequen...
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Abstract The viral genus Morbillivirus and the bacterial genus Brucella have emerged as important groups of pathogens that are known to affect cetacean health on a global scale, but neither pathogen has previously been reported from endangered sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). A female neonate sperm whale stranded alive and died near Laie on t...
Article
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are toxic man-made chemicals that bioaccumulate and biomagnify in food webs, making them a ubiquitous threat to the marine environment. Although many studies have determined concentrations of POPs in top predators, no studies have quantified POPs in stranded cetaceans within the last 30years around the Hawaiian...
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This study was designed to test the hypothesis that an immunoreactive chorionic gonadotropin (CG)-like substance is present in full-term dolphin placentas and to determine if CG immunoreactivity can be detected in corresponding serum and urine samples for potential application to diagnose pregnancy. Six placentas were collected immediately after pa...
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Despite the presence of melon-headed whales in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, little is known about this species. To assess population structure in Hawai'i, dedicated field efforts were undertaken from 2000 to 2009. Using only good quality photographs, there were 1,433 unique photo-identified individuals, of which 1,046 were distinctive...
Article
The objectives of this study were to validate a relaxin and progesterone RIA for use in bottlenose dolphins, and quantify and characterize both hormones in extracts of placental tissue and serum collected during pregnancy and the post-partum period, and compare the results between dolphins with live and stillborn calves. In Experiment 1, validation...
Article
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Steno bredanensis (Cuvier in Lesson, 1828) is a small odontocete commonly called the rough-toothed dolphin. A slender, gray dolphin with a slightly darker cape, this species is most easily distinguished from other small delphinids by a gradually sloping forehead and a long rostrum. It is the only species in the genus Steno. Despite reports of sight...
Article
A spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) was found stranded in Hawaii with cutaneous nodules and enlarged lymph nodes. Numerous Cryptococcus gattii VGI yeast were observed in multiple organs with minimal inflammation. This case represents the first reported infection of C. gattii in a dolphin from Hawaii.
Data
The biology and ecology of the pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) is poorly understood among odontocetes (McAlpine 2002). In Hawaiian waters, pygmy sperm whales are the second most frequently recorded stranded cetacean species, with 35 strandings documented between 1963 and 2008 (Shallenberger 1981, Nitta 1987, Maldini et al. 2005, NMFS database)....
Article
ALTHOUGH MANY TOOTHED WHALES (CETACEA: Odontoceti) lactate for 2-3 years or more, it is not known whether milk composition is affected by lactation stage in any odontocete species. We collected 64 pooled milk samples spanning 1-30 months postpartum from three captive bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. Milks were assayed for water, fat, crude p...
Article
There are few published reports of an alternative, less invasive method than blood sampling to obtain reproductive hormone concentrations from captive dolphins. The aims of this study were to: (1) validate milk as an effective alternative to blood plasma for determining progesterone concentrations; and (2) utilize milk samples collected frequently...

Citations

... A member of the genus Morbillivirus (family Paramyxoviridae, subfamily Orthoparamyxovirinae), CeMV is the natural agent with the greatest impact on cetacean health and conservation worldwide [4]. This non-segmented single-stranded RNA virus includes three well-characterized strains: dolphin morbillivirus (DMV), porpoise morbillivirus, and pilot whale morbillivirus, plus four more strains recently identified in Hawaii and the southern hemisphere [5][6][7][8]. ...
... The relationship between body condition and provisioned energy has not been investigated for any odontocete, since it is usually impractical to confirm milk delivery or estimate volume (Gero and Whitehead, 2007). However, aerial photogrammetry has recently been used successfully to quantify changes in body condition during foraging interruption for odontocetes (Currie et al., 2021) and assess how female body condition drives calf development in baleen whales (Christiansen et al., 2016(Christiansen et al., , 2018. Similar data on calf development and maternal condition could be collected for odontocetes, ideally under both natural and disturbed conditions. ...
... Despite their prohibition dating back more than 10 years ago, penta-BDE and octa-BDE congeners are still globally reported in marine mammals (Alonso et al., 2014;Aznar-Alemany et al., 2021;Kratofil et al., 2020;Simond et al., 2017). This can easily be linked to different factors, e.g. the persistence of these substances in the environment, the in use PBDE-containing products, the still ongoing production of these flame retardants in some geographical areas as well as the degradation of higher brominated (mainly deca-BDE) to lighter, bioavailable and more toxic congeners. ...
... A stranded neonate sperm whale that stranded on Oahu in 2011 was co-infected with Brucella and morbillivirus 26 . A Longman's beaked whale stranded in Maui in 2010 diagnosed with CeMV was tri-infected with an alphaherpesvirus and a novel circovirus 6,27 . Brucella, Toxoplasma gondii and herpesvirus were not detected during an intial diagnostic screen of this individual. ...
... Cetaceans with long lifespans (20-100 years) are commonly used as the ideal sentinel species in marine ecological risk assessments, because they are likely to accumulate high-levels of contaminants via long-term fish intake (Lam et al., 2016). In marine mammals, PFASs exposure was reported to be highly associated with infectious diseases because of their compromising the immune function Roos et al., 2013;Kurtz et al., 2019). Previous studies have reported that the PRE humpback dolphins accumulated the highest levels of PFOS in marine mammals worldwide and has been associated with their rapid population decline (Gui et al., 2019;Guo et al., 2022a). ...
... Tooth count in P. electra decreases with age, with the loss of teeth in the upper jaw preceding that in the lower jaw, which may be a suction feeding adaptation (Kurihara et al., 2016). It is a deep-dwelling whale that can dive up to 471.5 m and remain underwater for 12 min (West et al., 2018). The species possesses a complex social structure and usually travels in large groups of up to 1 000 individuals (Jefferson et al., 2008), a behavior likely related to its large brain size (Fox et al., 2017). ...
... Many diseases are associated with an imbalance of electrolyte homeostasis (Ciesielski et al. 2006;Grisel et al. 2006;Willard 2008;Kakuschke et al. 2009). Due to these variables, it is challenging to establish normal parameters and/or physiological range values in wild marine mammals (Ciesielski et al. 2006;Griesel et al. 2006Griesel et al. , 2008Schwacke et al. 2009;Manire et al. 2018). Consequently, it is essential to closely monitor the levels of all these minerals and electrolytes in body tissues with the aim to better conduct health and nutrition assessments. ...
... For all cetacean species studied to date, Mb levels are initially low at birth, and the neonates of most species have less than a quarter of adult Mb levels (Table S2). Unfortunately, small sample sizes combined with a lack of lifehistory knowledge limits us to only use three of these species [harbor porpoises (Phocoeana phocoena), bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales] to explore how Mb maturation varies in relation to weaning age in cetaceans (see table 3 in Noren and West, 2017). Of these three species, Mb maturation varies in accordance with weaning age in only two; Mb matures at 0.75-0.83 ...
... Morbillivirus infection was reported in a pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) stranded in Taiwan in 1999 and it was suggested that morbillivirus is present in Taiwanese waters (Yang et al., 2006). On the basis of this evidence, an investigation of morbillivirus infection in stranded cetaceans around Taiwanese waters and its adjacent areas should be conducted (Yang et al., 2016). Monitoring of other viral infections would be also important because the epidemiological patterns of the viral infections are likely associated with stress and immunosuppression, and may be an indicator of cetacean population health (Van Bressem et al., 2009;Soto et al., 2012). ...
... In cetaceans, the effects of CeMV are widely variable from causing epidemics to subclinical infections. According to previous studies about CeMV in BWs, even if a study does not describe histopathological findings in detail, it seems that the infection does not cause severe pathological effects in these species [13][14][15]. The only exception is the first published case of a BWMV infection in a Longman's BW stranded in Hawaii in 2010, which presented an associated nonsuppurative encephalitis but which was also co-infected with the herpesvirus [9]. ...