Matching Items (8)

148108-Thumbnail Image.png

Inspiring Young Learners in Arizona Through Sustainability and Reptile Conservation Education

Description

This 15-week long course is designed to introduce students, specifically in Arizona, to basic sustainability and conservation principles in the context of local reptile wildlife. Throughout the course, the students

This 15-week long course is designed to introduce students, specifically in Arizona, to basic sustainability and conservation principles in the context of local reptile wildlife. Throughout the course, the students work on identifying the problem, creating visions for the desired future, and finally developing a strategy to help with reptile species survival in the valley. Research shows that animals in the classroom have led to improved academic success for students. Thus, through creating this course I was able to combine conservation and sustainability curriculum with real-life animals whose survival is directly being affected in the valley. My hope is that this course will help students identify a newfound passion and call to action to protect native wildlife. The more awareness and actionable knowledge which can be brought to students in Arizona about challenges to species survival the more likely we are to see a change in the future and a stronger sense of urgency for protecting wildlife. In order to accomplish these goals, the curriculum was developed to begin with basic concepts of species needs such as food and shelter and basic principles of sustainability. As the course progresses the students analyze current challenges reptile wildlife faces, like urban sprawl, and explore options to address these challenges. The course concludes with a pilot pitch where students present their solution projects to the school.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2021-05

135703-Thumbnail Image.png

The Effect of Hydration State on Voluntary Maximum Temperature of a desert reptile, Heloderma suspectum.

Description

An organism's ability to maintain optimal body temperature is extremely important for sustaining physiological and behavioral processes necessary for survival. However, like other physiological systems, thermobiology can be influenced by

An organism's ability to maintain optimal body temperature is extremely important for sustaining physiological and behavioral processes necessary for survival. However, like other physiological systems, thermobiology can be influenced by the availability of resources. Water is a vital resource that has profound implications on many aspects of biological function, including thermoregulatory pathways. However, water availability has a tendency fluctuate within any given ecosystem. While several studies have investigated the influence of water availability on a range of thermoregulatory pathways, very little attention has been given to its influence on Voluntary Maximum Temperature (VMT). We investigated the effects of dehydration on Voluntary Maximum Temperature in a captive population of Gila monsters (Heloderma suspectum). Gila monsters are large-bodied, desert dwelling lizards that experience periods of seasonal dehydration. Additionally, the effects of dehydration on their physiology and behavior have been extensively studied. We hypothesized that dehydration would reduce VMT. As expected, there was a significant decrease in exit temperature as blood osmolality increased. This is presumed to be in an effort to decrease water loss. Adaptations that allow desert dwelling organisms to conserve water are highly advantageous due to seasonal water constraints. Our findings offer insight on how the behavior of these organisms may change in response to changes in climate.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-05

131941-Thumbnail Image.png

Genome-wide mining and comparative analyses of the Toll-like Receptor 7 and 11 gene subfamilies in reptiles

Description

New genomic resources allow for the investigation of gene family diversity in genome-enabled reptiles. The Toll-like Receptor (TLR) gene family recognizes pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and coevolves with environmental pathogens

New genomic resources allow for the investigation of gene family diversity in genome-enabled reptiles. The Toll-like Receptor (TLR) gene family recognizes pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and coevolves with environmental pathogens which makes it a strong candidate for looking at the interplay between gene family diversification and host-pathogen coevolution. Using a new orthology curation pipeline and phylogenetic reconstruction, a novel gene expansion event of TLR8 was identified to be exclusive to crocodilians and chelonians with species-specific pseudogenization events. A new gene, TLR21-like, was identified as a part of the TLR11 subfamily. These findings uncover reptile-specific gene family evolution and provide indications of the role of habitat in this process.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020-05

Transcriptomic and Cellular Studies of Tail Regeneration in Saurian Reptiles

Description

Traumatic injury to the central nervous or musculoskeletal system in traditional amniote models, such as mouse and chicken, is permanent with long-term physiological and functional effects. However, among amniotes, the

Traumatic injury to the central nervous or musculoskeletal system in traditional amniote models, such as mouse and chicken, is permanent with long-term physiological and functional effects. However, among amniotes, the ability to regrow complex, multi-tissue structures is unique to non-avian reptiles. Structural regeneration is extensively studied in lizards, with most species able to regrow a functional tail. The lizard regenerated tail includes the spinal cord, cartilage, de novo muscle, vasculature, and skin, and unlike mammals, these tissues can be replaced in lizards as adults. These studies focus on the events that occur before and after the tail regrowth phase, identifying conserved mechanisms that enable functional tail regeneration in the green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis. An examination of coordinated interactions between peripheral nerves, Schwann cells, and skeletal muscle reveal that reformation of the lizard neuromuscular system is dependent upon developmental programs as well as those unique to the adult during late stages of regeneration. On the other hand, transcriptomic analysis of the early injury response identified many immunoregulatory genes that may be essential for inhibiting fibrosis and initiating regenerative programs. Lastly, an anatomical and histological study of regrown alligator tails reveal that regenerative capacity varies between different reptile groups, providing comparative opportunities within amniotes and across vertebrates. In order to identify mechanisms that limit regeneration, these cross-species analyses will be critical. Taken together, these studies serve as a foundation for future experimental work that will reveal the interplay between reparative and regenerative mechanisms in adult amniotes with translational implications for medical therapies.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020

153267-Thumbnail Image.png

Herpetofauna community responses to saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) biological control and riparian restoration along a Mojave Desert stream, U.S.A

Description

In riparian ecosystems, reptiles and amphibians are good indicators of environmental conditions. Herpetofauna have been linked to specific microhabitat characteristics, microclimates, and water resources in riparian forests. My objective was

In riparian ecosystems, reptiles and amphibians are good indicators of environmental conditions. Herpetofauna have been linked to specific microhabitat characteristics, microclimates, and water resources in riparian forests. My objective was to relate herpetofauna abundance to changes in riparian habitat along the Virgin River caused by the Tamarix biological control agent, Diorhabda carinulata, and riparian restoration.

During 2013 and 2014, vegetation and herpetofauna were monitored at 21 riparian locations along the Virgin River via trapping and visual encounter surveys. Study sites were divided into four stand types based on density and percent cover of dominant trees (Tamarix, Prosopis, Populus, and Salix) and presence of restoration activities: Tam, Tam-Pros, Tam-Pop/Sal, and Restored Tam-Pop/Sal. Restoration activities consisted of mechanical removal of non-native trees, transplanting native trees, and introduction of water flow. All sites were affected by biological control. I predicted that herpetofauna abundance would vary between stand types and that herpetofauna abundance would be greatest in Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites due to increased habitat openness and variation following restoration efforts.

Results from trapping indicated that Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites had three times more total lizard and eight times more Sceloporus uniformis captures than other stand types. Anaxyrus woodhousii abundance was greatest in Tam-Pop/Sal and Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites. Visual encounter surveys indicated that herpetofauna abundance was greatest in the Restored Tam-Pop/Sal site compared to the adjacent Unrestored Tam-Pop/Sal site. Habitat variables were reduced to six components using a principle component analysis and significant differences were detected among stand types. Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites were most similar to Tam-Pop/Sal sites. S. uniformis were positively associated with large woody debris and high densities of Populus, Salix, and large diameter Prosopis.

Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites likely supported higher abundances of herpetofauna, as these areas exhibited greater habitat heterogeneity. Restoration activities created a mosaic habitat by reducing canopy cover and increasing native tree density and surface water. Natural resource managers should consider implementing additional restoration efforts following biological control when attempting to restore riparian areas dominated by Tamarix and other non-native trees.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

151122-Thumbnail Image.png

Forces driving thermogenesis and parental care in pythons

Description

Parental care provides many benefits to offspring. One widely realized benefit is enhanced regulation of offspring's thermal environment. The developmental thermal environment during development can be optimized behaviorally through nest

Parental care provides many benefits to offspring. One widely realized benefit is enhanced regulation of offspring's thermal environment. The developmental thermal environment during development can be optimized behaviorally through nest site selection and brooding, and it can be further enhanced by physiological heat production. In fact, enhancement of the developmental thermal environment has been proposed as the initial driving force for the evolution of endothermy in bird and mammals. I used pythons (Squamata: Pythonidae) to expand existing knowledge of behavioral and physiological parental tactics used to regulate offspring thermal environment. I first demonstrated that brooding behavior in the Children's python (Antaresia childreni) is largely driven by internal mechanisms, similar to solitary birds, suggesting that the early evolution of the parent-offspring association was probably hormonally driven. Two species of python are known to be facultatively thermogenic (i.e., are endothermic during reproduction). I expand current knowledge of thermogenesis in Burmese pythons (Python molurus) by demonstrating that females use their own body temperature to modulate thermogenesis. Although pythons are commonly cited as thermogenic, the actual extent of thermogenesis within the family Pythonidae is unknown. Thus, I assessed the thermogenic capability of five previously unstudied species of python to aid in understanding phylogenetic, morphological, and distributional influences on thermogenesis in pythons. Results suggest that facultative thermogenesis is likely rare among pythons. To understand why it is rare, I used an artificial model to demonstrate that energetic costs to the female likely outweigh thermal benefits to the clutch in species that do not inhabit cooler latitudes or lack large energy reserves. In combination with other studies, these results show that facultative thermogenesis during brooding in pythons likely requires particular ecological and physiological factors for its evolution.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

154914-Thumbnail Image.png

Clarifying the dehydration cascade: the relationship between water, stress, and immune function in squamates

Description

There is considerable recent interest in the dynamic nature of immune function in the context of an animal’s internal and external environment. An important focus within this field of ecoimmunology

There is considerable recent interest in the dynamic nature of immune function in the context of an animal’s internal and external environment. An important focus within this field of ecoimmunology is on how availability of resources such as energy can alter immune function. Water is an additional resource that drives animal development, physiology, and behavior, yet the influence hydration has on immunity has received limited attention. In particular, hydration state may have the greatest potential to drive fluctuations in immunity and other physiological functions in species that live in water-limited environments where they may experience periods of dehydration. To shed light on the sensitivity of immune function to hydration state, I first tested the effect of hydration states (hydrated, dehydrated, and rehydrated) and digestive states on innate immunity in the Gila monster, a desert-dwelling lizard. Though dehydration is often thought to be stressful and, if experienced chronically, likely to decrease immune function, dehydration elicited an increase in immune response in this species, while digestive state had no effect. Next, I tested whether dehydration was indeed stressful, and tested a broader range of immune measures. My findings validated the enhanced innate immunity across additional measures and revealed that Gila monsters lacked a significant stress hormone response during dehydration (though results were suggestive). I next sought to test if life history (in terms of environmental stability) drives these differences in dehydration responses using a comparative approach. I compared four confamilial pairs of squamate species that varied in habitat type within each pair—four species that are adapted to xeric environments and four that are adapted to more mesic environments. No effect of life history was detected between groups, but hydration was a driver of some measures of innate immunity and of stress hormone concentrations in multiple species. Additionally, species that exhibited a stress response to dehydration did not have decreased innate immunity, suggesting these physiological responses may often be decoupled. My dissertation work provides new insight into the relationship between hydration, stress, and immunity, and it may inform future work exploring disease transmission or organismal responses to climate change.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

152461-Thumbnail Image.png

Examination of the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system, the Gila monster, Heloderma suspectum

Description

Foraging has complex effects on whole-organism homeostasis, and there is considerable evidence that foraging behavior is influenced by both environmental factors (e.g., food availability, predation risk) and the physiological condition

Foraging has complex effects on whole-organism homeostasis, and there is considerable evidence that foraging behavior is influenced by both environmental factors (e.g., food availability, predation risk) and the physiological condition of an organism. The optimization of foraging behavior to balance costs and benefits is termed state-dependent foraging (SDF) while behavior that seeks to protect assets of fitness is termed the asset protection principle (APP). A majority of studies examining SDF have focused on the role that energy balance has on the foraging of organisms with high metabolism and high energy demands ("high-energy systems" such as endotherms). In contrast, limited work has examined whether species with low energy use ("low-energy systems" such as vertebrate ectotherms) use an SDF strategy. Additionally, there is a paucity of evidence demonstrating how physiological and environmental factors other than energy balance influence foraging behavior (e.g. hydration state and free-standing water availability). Given these gaps in our understanding of SDF behavior and the APP, I examined the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system occupying a resource-limited environment - the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum, Cope 1869). In contrast to what has been observed in a wide variety of taxa, I found that Gila monsters do not use a SDF strategy to manage their energy reserves and that Gila monsters do not defend their energetic assets. However, hydration state and free-standing water availability do affect foraging behavior of Gila monsters. Additionally, as Gila monsters become increasingly dehydrated, they reduce activity to defend hydration state. The SDF behavior of Gila monsters appears to be largely driven by the fact that Gila monsters must separately satisfy energy and water demands with food and free-standing water, respectively, in conjunction with the timescale within which Gila monsters balance their energy and water budgets (supra-annually versus annually, respectively). Given these findings, the impact of anticipated changes in temperature and rainfall patterns in the Sonoran Desert are most likely going to pose their greatest risks to Gila monsters through the direct and indirect effects on water balance.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014