JCSET | Watershed Studies Institute Research Symposium

Title

Morph- and sex-specific differences in corticosterone of the Arizona tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum)

Presenter Information

Megan ZergerFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Minor

undeclared

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Howard Whiteman; Dr. Kelsey Reider; Dr. Andrea Darracq

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Life history morph, sex, and body condition are traits that may influence stress within salamander populations because of differences in physiology and environmental conditions. Given widespread declines and the effects chronic stress can have on amphibian health, it is important to understand within-population drivers of stress and how population level variation may influence population viability. Thus, the objective of our study was to assess how corticosterone varies within the Arizona tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum) populations at two sites: the Mexican Cut Nature Preserve and the Gunnison Valley of western Colorado. Expanding upon our 2020 research, we used two non-invasive hormonal sampling methods to collect baseline and elevated corticosterone from paedomorph (aquatic morph; N = 11 male, 10 female) and metamorph (terrestrial morph; N = 16 male, 10 female) Arizona tiger salamanders in July 2021. Baseline corticosterone samples were collected within three minutes of capture via dermal swabbing. We then agitated the animals for 30 minutes, and collected elevated stress samples at 0, 30, 60, and 90 minutes post-agitation through dermal swabbing and water-borne corticosterone sampling. This study will allow us to evaluate the accuracy of different non-invasive hormonal sampling methods, and to consider variability in corticosterone by sex, body condition, and morph. Our data will provide a better understanding of how stress hormones can be used to assess population health and disease susceptibility. Future research utilizing this method could clarify the effects of climatic variation and population density in amphibian populations.

Spring Scholars Week 2022 Event

Watershed Studies Institute Symposium

Other Scholars Week Event

Sigma Xi Poster Competition

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Morph- and sex-specific differences in corticosterone of the Arizona tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum)

Life history morph, sex, and body condition are traits that may influence stress within salamander populations because of differences in physiology and environmental conditions. Given widespread declines and the effects chronic stress can have on amphibian health, it is important to understand within-population drivers of stress and how population level variation may influence population viability. Thus, the objective of our study was to assess how corticosterone varies within the Arizona tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum) populations at two sites: the Mexican Cut Nature Preserve and the Gunnison Valley of western Colorado. Expanding upon our 2020 research, we used two non-invasive hormonal sampling methods to collect baseline and elevated corticosterone from paedomorph (aquatic morph; N = 11 male, 10 female) and metamorph (terrestrial morph; N = 16 male, 10 female) Arizona tiger salamanders in July 2021. Baseline corticosterone samples were collected within three minutes of capture via dermal swabbing. We then agitated the animals for 30 minutes, and collected elevated stress samples at 0, 30, 60, and 90 minutes post-agitation through dermal swabbing and water-borne corticosterone sampling. This study will allow us to evaluate the accuracy of different non-invasive hormonal sampling methods, and to consider variability in corticosterone by sex, body condition, and morph. Our data will provide a better understanding of how stress hormones can be used to assess population health and disease susceptibility. Future research utilizing this method could clarify the effects of climatic variation and population density in amphibian populations.