Matching Items (6)

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Interactions between Biliverdin, Oxidative Damage, and Spleen Morphology after Simulated Aggressive Encounters in Veiled Chameleons

Description

Stressors frequently increase oxidative damage–unless organisms simultaneously mount effective antioxidant responses. One putative mitigative mechanism is the use of biliverdin, an antioxidant produced in the spleen during erythrocyte degradation. We

Stressors frequently increase oxidative damage–unless organisms simultaneously mount effective antioxidant responses. One putative mitigative mechanism is the use of biliverdin, an antioxidant produced in the spleen during erythrocyte degradation. We hypothesized that both wild and captive-bred male veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus), which are highly aggressive to conspecifics, would respond to agonistic displays with increased levels of oxidative damage, but that increased levels of biliverdin would limit this increase. We found that even just visual exposure to a potential combatant resulted in decreased body mass during the subsequent 48-hour period, but that hematocrit, biliverdin concentration in the bile, relative spleen size, and oxidative damage in plasma, liver, and spleen were unaffected. Contrary to our predictions, we found that individuals with smaller spleens exhibited greater decreases in hematocrit and higher bile biliverdin concentrations, suggesting a revision to the idea of spleen-dependent erythrocyte processing. Interestingly, individuals with larger spleens had reduced oxidative damage in both the liver and spleen, demonstrating the spleen’s importance in modulating oxidative damage. We also uncovered differences in spleen size and oxidative damage between wild and captive-bred chameleons, highlighting environmentally dependent differences in oxidative physiology. Lastly, we found no relationship between oxidative damage and biliverdin concentration, calling into question biliverdin’s antioxidant role in this species.

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  • 2015-09-14

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Are males turned on by sexy females? Female attractiveness upregulates male reproductive physiology and behavior in zebra finches

Description

Testosterone (T) is a steroid hormone that affects behavior and reproductive traits (e.g. spermatogenesis and ornamentation) in vertebrates. In addition to long-term influences, T can rapidly increase in males following

Testosterone (T) is a steroid hormone that affects behavior and reproductive traits (e.g. spermatogenesis and ornamentation) in vertebrates. In addition to long-term influences, T can rapidly increase in males following aggressive male-male encounters. Less is known how females directly influence male T and behavior, though research with humans suggests that sexually attractive females elicit a greater increase in male T and reproductive behavior than unattractive females. In birds, the influence of female attractiveness on male T and behavior is currently untested. We hypothesized that T and courtship behavior in male zebra finches would correlate with female attractiveness. We used red leg bands to make females "attractive" and green bands to make them "unattractive" (unbanded females were controls) as previous research suggests that zebra finches prefer red colors over green in mating contexts. We collected blood from males before and after "speed-dating" trials to measure changes in plasma T and analyzed male courtship behaviors from trial video recordings. The likelihood of plasma T increasing after a trial was significantly greater in males who were with red-banded females compared to control females, suggesting males may find them more attractive than green or control females. Additionally, independent of band color, males who exhibited greater T differences initiated courtship sooner and spent more time closest to females. However, courtship initiation and time spent near females were not correlated with band color. Overall, our results suggest that female attractiveness can influence male reproductive physiology, but the presence of a female may trigger male courtship behavior.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Cognition and personality in male veiled chameleons, Chamaeleo calyptratus

Description

Historically, the study of cognition has focused on species-specific learning, memory, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities, and emphasis was placed on the few high-performing individuals who successfully completed cognitive tasks. Studies

Historically, the study of cognition has focused on species-specific learning, memory, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities, and emphasis was placed on the few high-performing individuals who successfully completed cognitive tasks. Studies often deemed the success of a small fraction of individuals as suggestive of the cognitive capacity of the entire species. Recently though, interest in individual variation in cognitive ability within species has increased. This interest has emerged concomitantly with studies of variation in animal personalities (i.e. behavioral syndromes). Cognitive ability may be closely tied to personality because the mechanisms by which an individual perceives and uses environmental input (cognition) should influence how that individual consistently responds to various ecological demands (personality). However, empirical support for links between animal cognition and behavioral syndromes is currently lacking. I examined individual variation in cognition and personality in male veiled chameleons, Chamaeleo calyptratus. I considered three axes of personality (aggression, activity, and exploratory behavior) and cognition in a foraging context using visual cues − specifically, the ability to associate a color with a food reward. I found that aggression was positively correlated with the proportion of correct choices and number of consecutive correct choices. Also, one measure of exploration (the number of vines touched in a novel environment) was correlated negatively with the proportion of correct choices and positively with the number of consecutive incorrect decisions. My investigation suggests that more aggressive, less exploratory chameleons were more successful learners, and that there exists a shared pathway between these personality traits and cognitive ability.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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Using Ants, Animal Behavior & the Learning Cycle to Investigate Scientific Processes

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The behavior of animals is an intrinsically fascinating topic for students from a wide array of backgrounds. We describe a learning experience using animal behavior that we created for middle

The behavior of animals is an intrinsically fascinating topic for students from a wide array of backgrounds. We describe a learning experience using animal behavior that we created for middle school students as part of a graduate-student outreach program, Graduate Partners in Science Education, at Arizona State University in collaboration with a K-8 public school. This activity capitalizes on the interest that animal behavior can generate to introduce and reinforce student understanding of the scientific method. Specifically, our activity highlights the general utility of the scientific method and uses this method to examine ant social behavior, with emphasis on generating and testing hypotheses. Furthermore, this activity introduces the idea of animal societies and encourages students to apply the concepts they learn to other species, including humans. By collecting ants locally, from schoolyards or nearby habitats, this experience situates learning in the context of students' own communities. We also provide optional assessment materials that teachers can use to assess learning objectives and standard mastery.

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Date Created
  • 2014-10-01

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The effect of carotenoid supplementation on immune system development in juvenile male veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

Description

Introduction
Nutrient availability, assimilation, and allocation can have important and lasting effects on the immune system development of growing animals. Though carotenoid pigments have immunostimulatory properties in many animals, relatively

Introduction
Nutrient availability, assimilation, and allocation can have important and lasting effects on the immune system development of growing animals. Though carotenoid pigments have immunostimulatory properties in many animals, relatively little is known regarding how they influence the immune system during development. Moreover, studies linking carotenoids to health at any life stage have largely been restricted to birds and mammals. We investigated the effects of carotenoid supplementation on multiple aspects of immunity in juvenile veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus). We supplemented half of the chameleons with lutein (a xanthophyll carotenoid) for 14 weeks during development and serially measured multiple aspects of immune function, including: agglutination and lysis performance of plasma, wound healing, and plasma nitric oxide concentrations before and after wounding.
Results
Though lutein supplementation effectively elevated circulating carotenoid concentrations throughout the developmental period, we found no evidence that carotenoid repletion enhanced immune function at any point. However, agglutination and lysis scores increased, while baseline nitric oxide levels decreased, as chameleons aged.
Conclusions
Taken together, our results indicate that body mass and age, but not carotenoid access, may play an important role in immune performance of growing chameleons. Hence, studying well-understood physiological processes in novel taxa can provide new perspectives on alternative physiological processes and nutrient function.

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Date Created
  • 2014-03-22

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Chameleon color change communicates conquest and capitulation

Description

Sexual and social signals have long been thought to play an important role in speciation and diversity; hence, investigations of intraspecific communication may lead to important insights regarding key processes

Sexual and social signals have long been thought to play an important role in speciation and diversity; hence, investigations of intraspecific communication may lead to important insights regarding key processes of evolution. Though we have learned much about the control, function, and evolution of animal communication by studying several very common signal types, investigating rare classes of signals may provide new information about how and why animals communicate. My dissertation research focused on rapid physiological color change, a rare signal-type used by relatively few taxa. To answer longstanding questions about this rare class of signals, I employed novel methods to measure rapid color change signals of male veiled chameleons Chamaeleo calyptratus in real-time as seen by the intended conspecific receivers, as well as the associated behaviors of signalers and receivers. In the context of agonistic male-male interactions, I found that the brightness achieved by individual males and the speed of color change were the best predictors of aggression and fighting ability. Conversely, I found that rapid skin darkening serves as a signal of submission for male chameleons, reducing aggression from winners when displayed by losers. Additionally, my research revealed that the timing of maximum skin brightness and speed of brightening were the best predictors of maximum bite force and circulating testosterone levels, respectively. Together, these results indicated that different aspects of color change can communicate information about contest strategy, physiology, and performance ability. Lastly, when I experimentally manipulated the external appearance of chameleons, I found that "dishonestly" signaling individuals (i.e. those whose behavior did not match their manipulated color) received higher aggression from unpainted opponents. The increased aggression received by dishonest signalers suggests that social costs play an important role in maintaining the honesty of rapid color change signals in veiled chameleons. Though the color change abilities of chameleons have interested humans since the time of Aristotle, little was previously known about the signal content of such changes. Documenting the behavioral contexts and information content of these signals has provided an important first step in understanding the current function, underlying control mechanisms, and evolutionary origins of this rare signal type.

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Date Created
  • 2015