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Sled dogs as sentinel species for monitoring arctic ecosystem health

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Here we review sled dogs as a sentinel monitoring species of ecosystem health across the Arctic focusing on environmental changes including pollution, climate change, and infectious diseases. Studies on environmental contaminants have been carried out mostly in Alaska and Greenland. While the majority of reports focus on mercury exposure and health effects, a major classical case-controlled study of exposure and effects from persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has been carried out on Greenland sled dog bitches and their pups. Altogether, the studies show that mercury and POPs affect multiple health endpoints across physiological systems, including reproductive, endocrine, and immune systems, that ultimately affect systems such as the liver and kidney. Therefore, sled dogs have proved to be a good model for assessing the health effects from contaminant exposure of top predators and Northerners in the Arctic. Furthermore, they are widelydistributed across the Arctic and show similar correlations to important health indicators reported in Northerners and polar bears. With respect to climate change and disease dynamics of zoonosis, most studies have taken place in Canada. However, at present sled dogs are not utilized in monitoring studies of zoonotic diseases. Such an inclusion will increasethe understanding of environmental changes, pollution, and diseases dynamics in Northerners and wildlife. We therefore recommend that ecosystem health assessments in the Arctic including that of Northerners start to include analyses of sleddogs combined with modeling tools. Doing so in a circumpolar perspective will further increase our understanding and monitoring possibilities of ecosystem health and Northerners exposure to contaminants, diseases, and climate change in the Arctic.

TitelPets as Sentinels, Forecasters and Promoters of Human Health
RedaktørerM. Ramiro Pastorinho, Ana Catarina A. Sousa
Antal sider25
ISBN (trykt)9783030307332
ISBN (Elektronisk)9783030307349
StatusUdgivet - 2019

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