Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ecologists Link Early Malnutrition, Arthritis in Moose

13.07.2010
As a 150-pound person ages, the aches and pains of osteoarthritis—a degenerative and progressively crippling joint disease—often become an unpleasant fact of life. Think how the same condition hurts a 1,000-pound moose.

In a report just published in Ecology Letters online, Michigan Technological University wildlife ecologists Rolf O. Peterson and John A.Vucetich; Thomas Drummer a professor of mathematics at Michigan Tech; and colleagues in Minnesota and Ohio describe a link between malnutrition early in a moose’s life and osteoarthritis as the animal ages.

“I’ve long thought that there was a nutritional link to the increase in osteoarthritis in moose on Isle Royale—a wilderness island national park in northwestern Lake Superior—as the population of the animals grew in the 1960s and 1970s,” says Peterson, who hold the Robbins Chair in Sustainable Management of the Environment. He even hypothesized this nutritional link in a paper published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases in 1988, a paper that the scientist says was largely ignored.

Three generations of wildlife ecologists have been studying the moose of Isle Royale and their primary predators, wolves, for more than 50 years. A key factor in the study has been the discovery and analysis of the bones of moose that die on Isle Royale.

During the first two decades of the study, the scientists found increasing evidence of osteoarthritis in moose bones on Isle Royale, mostly in the animals’ hip joints and lower spine. This type of arthritis is identical to the kind that affects humans and many other mammals.

Unlike the damaged and partial skeletons usually recovered from archeological digs, the bones of moose that die in the wilderness setting of Isle Royale usually reveal details such as gender, age and degree of osteoarthritis. And they often include metatarsal leg bones, which are extremely sensitive to prenatal nutrition.

“After birth, the mass of a moose increases 30-fold, but when a moose is born, the metatarsus is already half grown,” Peterson explains. That gives them a leg up for running fast to escape their predators, the wolves.

Matching the length of a moose’s metatarsal bone with the degree of osteoarthritis found in the hip joints and spine provided Peterson and his team with their best evidence of a nutritional link to osteoarthritis.

They found that the moose with the shortest metatarsal bones—indicating poor early nutrition—were the ones more likely to develop osteoarthritis later in their lives. They also learned that during the years when the moose were most numerous coincided with the highest observed rates of osteoarthritis in moose born during that time. As the moose population declined, improving the availability of adequate nutrition, osteoarthritis declined among the better-nourished moose as they aged.

“This physiological association also has ecological implications,” Peterson wrote. “The debilitating effects of osteoarthritis would inhibit a moose’s ability to kick or dodge a lunging wolf. Consequently, the incidence of osteoarthritis is associated with the rate at which wolves kill moose on Isle Royale.”

The ecologists’ findings on osteoarthritis in the moose of Isle Royale have implications for understanding arthritis in humans, Peterson went on to say. Studies of humans and other animals have increasingly linked many chronic adult diseases with nutritional deficiencies early in life.

“Our study suggests the need to consider more carefully whether osteoarthritis is like other late-onset pathologies, including heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, that appear to have risk factors established early in life,” he said. “The apparent link between early nutrition and osteoarthritis indicates that the cause of osteoarthritis is more complex than commonly assumed.”

Jennifer Donovan | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.mtu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>