Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are captured routinely for scientific study. Extreme exertion during restraint and transport can lead to acidosis and free radical production that result in muscle tissue damage. This condition, termed capture myopathy, can result in dyspnea, hyperthermia, weakness, muscle rigidity, and collapse. These complications could lead to increased susceptibility of individuals to predation or contribute to death weeks or months after capture. Death caused by capture could negatively bias mortality rate estimates if mortalities occur after traditional censor periods. We hypothesize that muscular damage incurred during capture handicaps northern bobwhites. We evaluated our hypothesis by comparing survival of northern bobwhite that were treated for muscular damage with an injection of vitamin E and selenium, a solution recommended in veterinary avian medicine, with bobwhites that were not treated. We captured northern bobwhite during 2002 and 2003 and injected half of the birds with 0.1 ml of a vitamin E and selenium solution and the other half with a saline control. We then transported these birds to our study site and monitored them using radiotelemetry. We estimated survival rates using the staggered-entry Kaplan-Meier Product Limit Estimator. The survival of treated birds was greater than the survival of control birds in 2002 at days 45 (58% vs. 29%, Z = 1.98, P = 0.05) and 66 (53% vs. 29%, Z = 1.79, P = 0.07), a period before and after which sample sizes were very small. Treated birds exhibited a greater (χ2 = 7.11, P <0.008) survival curve than control birds during 2003 and when treatments were pooled by year (χ2 = 4.19, P = 0.04). Thus, our data suggest that injection of wild northern bobwhite with vitamin E and selenium increased survival of transplanted birds as compared to control birds injected with saline.
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Vol. 69 • No. 2