Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-9-2023





Examining Committee Member

Jessica Moon, PhD, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Andrea Darracq, PhD, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

John Hewlett, MS, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Jeff Osborne, PhD, Committee Member


Traditional forms of rapid wetland condition assessments focus on foliage health, nutrient enrichment, chemical contamination, and surrounding land usage, often overlooking an evaluation of the animals living in the wetland. More intense assessments include the National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) and indices of biotic integrity, which focus on community composition (e.g., diversity and species richness) and abundances. These indices require expertise in species identification and do not provide information about the animal’s fitness. Animal stress physiology, which generally correlates with measures used to quantify animal fitness (e.g., survival, reproduction, and body condition), may provide a complementary rapid assessment method aimed at understanding the connections between organismal health and our current understanding of wetland condition. The goal of this paper is to identify a possible area for improvement in the current standing KY-WRAM system and to aid the Kentucky Division of Water and other agencies in identifying existing links between wetland condition and the health of the amphibian population in target ecosystems.