Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Beaupre, Steven

Reader

Beaupre, Steven

Second Reader

Willson, J.D.

Third Reader

Adams, Paul D.

Fourth Reader

Sakon, Joshua

Abstract

Prior work has shown that when animals are stressed they have altered leukocyte profiles. The use of leukocyte profiles could provide an inexpensive and efficient method for determining stress. Here we present a validation of the use of leukocyte profiles for showing induced stress in Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridus). Snakes (N=19) with masses ranging from 682g to 137g were used in a repeated measures design to examine the effect of hormone manipulation on leukocyte profiles. During each trial snakes were dosed with either corticosterone and sesame oil (1.1µg/g) or only sesame oil. Prior to dosing, baseline blood samples were collected to analyze a pre-dosing leukocyte count. Immediately after blood draw, snakes were placed into small chambers that would facilitate dosing located in an undisturbed room; 24 hours after baseline samples animals were dosed. The dosing mixture was left to be absorbed for 24 hours and a final blood sample was taken. Whole blood from each snake sample was used to create blood smears. Blood smears were stained with Wright-Geimsa stain. Slides were scored to determine the ratio of heterophils to lymphocytes. We found a significant affect of corticosterone on heterophil:lymphocyte ratios. Results of this study will be used in conjunction with plasma corticosterone assays to validate the use of leukocytes profiles for determining stress levels in pitvipers.

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