Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Sarah K. Woodley
Richard P. Elinson
corticosterone, behavior, mating, feeding, activity, pH
In western Pennsylvania, chronically and episodically acidified stream habitats are common. The mountain dusky salamander, Desmognathus ochrophaeus, is an abundant species that is associated with acidified streams. The focus of this research was to (1) examine the effects of acidified habitats on the stress hormone, corticosterone, and (2) examine the effects of corticosterone on behavior. In an acidified stream site, males had a blunted corticosterone stress response after capture and handling compared to an acid neutral site. There was a trend for elevated corticosterone to inhibit several aspects of male mating behavior, including insemination of females. These data suggest that acidification may alter normal stress physiology and thereby influence the expression of mating behavior. Ultimately, this data would help to understand how environmental degradation (specifically degradation associated with acidification) affects behaviors in free living animals via the effects on stress physiology.
Ricciardella, L. (2008). Acidification and Stress Physiology in a Plethodontid Salamander, Desmognathus ochrophaeus (Master's thesis, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1100