Date of Award

12-4-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Matthew Grober - Chair

Second Advisor

Gordon Schuett

Third Advisor

Andrew Clancy

Abstract

I conducted an integrative field study on male cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus), a common pitviper of the southeastern United States, to investigate the evolution of contrasting mating patterns in North American pitvipers (bimodal and unimodal annual patterns) and resolve conflicting information about the pattern exhibited by the cottonmouth. I determined a unimodal late summer peak of testosterone (T) and a muted unimodal seasonal cycle of the sexual segment of the kidney (a secondary sexual characteristic), both of which were correlated with the single peak of spermatogenesis in late summer. I also conducted a study to determine diel and seasonal variation of corticosterone (CORT), the effect of captive handling on CORT, and the relationship between CORT and T after captive handling, and detected a significant elevation of CORT and a significant decrease of T after capture in male cottonmouths, as well as a significant negative correlation between CORT and T.

Included in

Biology Commons

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