JCSET | Watershed Studies Institute Research Symposium

Title

A Comparison of The Dermal Swab and Waterborne Methods for Measuring Corticosterone Levels in Amphibians for Use in Wetland Condition Assessments

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Major

Biology; Pre-Med

Minor

Chemistry

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr.Jessica Moon, PhD; Dr.Andrea Darracq, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Wetlands are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world but have been declining in condition across the United States for decades. Methods such as the National Wetland Condition Assessment, which focuses on foliage health, nutrient enrichment, chemical contamination, and surrounding land usage, are used to catalog the condition of those wetlands that remain. It is unknown if and how these current measures of condition relate to the physiological responses of the organisms that inhabit these systems. Amphibians can serve as a model organism for assessing the linkage between organismal health and wetland condition due to their high species diversity in wetlands and their use of wetlands for some or all of their life cycles. The objective of this study is to assess the utility of using rapid measures of amphibian stress physiology as complementary metrics in wetland condition assessments. The measurement of corticosterone levels in an organism represents a noninvasive means of collecting stress physiology data, with two well established methods including the Santymire dermal swab method and Gabor’s waterborne measurement method. To identify which method may be the most appropriate in the quantification of the stress response in amphibians we will collect corticosterone samples from 15 individual tree-frogs in 5 to 10 different wetlands using both the dermal swab and waterborne measurement methods and will compare the results to traditional rapid assessment method scores.

Spring Scholars Week 2022 Event

Watershed Studies Institute Symposium

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A Comparison of The Dermal Swab and Waterborne Methods for Measuring Corticosterone Levels in Amphibians for Use in Wetland Condition Assessments

Wetlands are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world but have been declining in condition across the United States for decades. Methods such as the National Wetland Condition Assessment, which focuses on foliage health, nutrient enrichment, chemical contamination, and surrounding land usage, are used to catalog the condition of those wetlands that remain. It is unknown if and how these current measures of condition relate to the physiological responses of the organisms that inhabit these systems. Amphibians can serve as a model organism for assessing the linkage between organismal health and wetland condition due to their high species diversity in wetlands and their use of wetlands for some or all of their life cycles. The objective of this study is to assess the utility of using rapid measures of amphibian stress physiology as complementary metrics in wetland condition assessments. The measurement of corticosterone levels in an organism represents a noninvasive means of collecting stress physiology data, with two well established methods including the Santymire dermal swab method and Gabor’s waterborne measurement method. To identify which method may be the most appropriate in the quantification of the stress response in amphibians we will collect corticosterone samples from 15 individual tree-frogs in 5 to 10 different wetlands using both the dermal swab and waterborne measurement methods and will compare the results to traditional rapid assessment method scores.