Defense Date

6-28-2008

Graduation Date

2008

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

thesis

Degree Name

MS

Department

Biological Sciences

School

Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Committee Chair

Sarah K. Woodley

Committee Member

Richard P. Elinson

Committee Member

Lisa Ludvico

Keywords

corticosterone, behavior, mating, feeding, activity, pH

Abstract

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.

Format

PDF

Language

English

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