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16 December 2010 Harp seal ageing techniques—teeth, aspartic acid racemization, and telomere sequence analysis
Eva Garde, Anne K. Frie, Glenn Dunshea, Steen H. Hansen, Kit M. Kovacs, Christian Lydersen
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Abstract

Lower jaws (containing the teeth), eyes, and skin samples were collected from harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) in the southeastern Barents Sea for the purpose of comparing age estimates obtained by 3 different methods, the traditional technique of counting growth layer groups (GLGs) in teeth and 2 novel approaches, aspartic acid racemization (AAR) in eye lens nuclei and telomere sequence analyses as a proxy for telomere length. A significant correlation between age estimates obtained using GLGs and AAR was found, whereas no correlation was found between GLGs and telomere length. An AAR rate (kAsp) of 0.00130/year ± 0.00005 SE and a D-enantiomer to L-enantiomer ratio at birth (D/L0 value) of 0.01933 ± 0.00048 SE were estimated by regression of D/L ratios against GLG ages from 25 animals (12 selected teeth that had high readability and 13 known-aged animals). AAR could prove to be useful, particularly for ageing older animals in species such as harp seals where difficulties in counting GLGs tend to increase with age. Age estimation by telomere length did not show any correlation with GLG ages and is not recommended for harp seals.

Eva Garde, Anne K. Frie, Glenn Dunshea, Steen H. Hansen, Kit M. Kovacs, and Christian Lydersen "Harp seal ageing techniques—teeth, aspartic acid racemization, and telomere sequence analysis," Journal of Mammalogy 91(6), 1365-1374, (16 December 2010). https://doi.org/10.1644/10-MAMM-A-080.1
Received: 11 March 2010; Accepted: 1 June 2010; Published: 16 December 2010
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KEYWORDS
age determination
age estimation
amino acid racemization (AAR)
aspartic acid
eye lens
growth layer group (GLG)
Pagophilus groenlandicus
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