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    P1: SSAR Hutchison Award

    2021-07-26   16:00 - 18:00

    To view the posters go to You will be able to chat one-on-one during the Monday poster session, the e-poster platform.

    1.  16:00  Differential diets, growth rates, and survival of captive-bred hatchling Texas horned lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum) at two locations in central Texas. Rachel Alenius-Thalhuber*, Texas Christian University; Diane Barber, Fort Worth Zoo; Nathan Rains, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; James Gallagher, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; Tom Thalhuber, Texas Christian University; Dean Williams, Texas Christian University

    The reintroduction of captive-bred animals has been increasingly utilized for the conservation of many species. However, few studies have focused on the importance of environmental factors and resource availability in the success of wildlife reintroductions. The goal of this study was to see if location influences the short-term reintroduction success of captive-bred Texas horned lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum). Specifically, we monitored diets, growth rates, and survival of over 250 lizards reintroduced to2 locationsin Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area (Mason County, TX) for 3 months.The two release sites appeared to have similar habitat features and were selected for previous reintroduction attempts based on apparent suitability for adult Texas horned lizards. The locations measured 0.25 ha and were 150 m apart. Approximately equal numbers of hatchlings (137 vs 121) were randomly assigned to the two locations prior to release. Diet, growth rates, and survival of hatchlings all differed between the two locations. The findings of this study suggest that location may play an important role in the reintroduction success of young Texas horned lizards. Although the two locations appeared to have similar resources, differences in resource proximity could explain effects on short-term survival because home ranges of many hatchlings were less than 2 m2. For these young lizards, resource proximity may be as important as resource availability. Future research will focus on identifying specific microhabitat differences between the two locations such as prey availability, vegetation, thermal habitat quality, and soil permeability.

    2.  16:00  Development of a Species-Specific Environmental DNA Assay to Detect the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus). Kristin Kabat*, Texas Tech University; Matthew Barnes, Texas Tech University

    The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) is endemic to the Mescalero-Monahans shinnery oak dunes system in eastern New Mexico and western Texas. In addition to a naturally patchy distribution, DSL is threatened by habitat fragmentation caused by natural resource development, generating a need for closer study of DSL populations. Traditional survey methods for this S. arenicolus include pitfall trapping and visual encounter surveys. Emerging environmental DNA (eDNA) methodologies, which detect organisms based on genetic materials shed into the environment, provide sensitive tools which may overcome the challenges of traditional survey methods. The application of eDNA methods have proven to be a useful tool in aquatic ecosystems, however terrestrial eDNA is relatively understudied. We curated available Cytrochrome B sequence data for S. arenicolus, congeneric species, and any co-occurring reptiles for all counties in Texas where S. arenicolus is known to occur. We designed candidate primers in silico using the DECIPHER package in R, and evaluated candidate assays using tissue-derived DNA in quantitative PCR (qPCR) to confirm that primers were indeed species specific to S. arenicolusand would not amplify nontarget species. Primers that were optimized using tissue-derived DNA were then evaluated for their performance on eDNA samples. Our novel genetic assay provides a supplementary tool for rapid and accurate detections where robust traditional trapping efforts for an elusive species are not feasible.

    3.  16:00  Unexpected Impacts: Non-Native Lizards as Vectors of Introduced Pentastomid Parasites in Florida . Madison Harman*, University of Florida; Thomas Fieldsend, Florida International University; Caitlin Mothes, University of Miami; Timothy Collins, Florida International University; Melissa Miller, University of Florida; Christina Romagosa, University of Florida

    Non-native species have the potential to negatively impact native flora and fauna through a variety of mechanisms. Predation and competition are the most widely recognized consequences of an introduction; however, spread of parasites and pathogens can also be detrimental. Raillietiella orientalis is an invasive pentastomid parasite from Asia co-introduced to Florida with the Burmese python (Python bivittatus) that has spread to infect at least 14 species of native Florida snakes and two non-native lizards. We sampled a diversity of non-native lizards throughout southern Florida and the Florida Keys to investigate the potential for non-native lizards to serve as vectors of introduced pentastomes. We performed necropsies on six lizard species: Argentine giant tegus (Salvator merianae, n = 114), tokay geckos (Gecko gekko, n = 16), Madagascar giant day geckos (Phelsuma grandis, n = 37), Peter’s rock agamas (Agama picticauda, n = 24), brown basilisks (Basiliscus vittatus, n = 30), and knight anoles (Anolis equestris, n = 5). We discovered pentastomes in four species: S. merianae (17.3%, 3.89 ± 5.74), G. gekko (87.5%, 8.71 ± 7.12), P. grandis (35.1%, 8.77 ± 8.52), and B. vittatus (16.7%, 3.40 ± 3.36). Based on morphological characteristics of copulatory spicules and prior literature, we believe these pentastomids include both R. orientalis and R. affinis, which are native to Asia and Africa, respectively. Future studies will aim to confirm morphological identifications with genetic analyses, investigate host competency, and explore phenotypic variation of pentastome morphology among host taxa.

    4.  16:00  Diet of the Rio Grande Cooter (Pseudemys gorzugi) in San Felipe Creek, Texas. Lawrence Bassett*, Texas State University; Weston Nowlin, Texas State University; Daniel Foley, Sul Ross State University; Ivana Mali, Eastern New Mexico University; Michael Forstner, Texas State University; Babafemi Siji Ajisebiola, Department of Zoology, Osun State University; Olubisi Esther Adeyi, Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Agriculture; Samuel Metibemu Damilohun, Department of Biochemistry Adekunle Ajasin University,

    The Rio Grande Cooter (Pseudemys gorzugi) is an imperiled freshwater emydid turtle currently in review for listing under the USA Endangered Species Act. Little information has been published regarding the natural history of this taxon, including its dietary habits. The objective of this study was to elucidate the diet of P. gorzugifrom San Felipe Creek, Texas and evaluate its dietary niche in relation to the syntopic red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Turtles were captured by hand for collection of feces and claw tissue. Fecal matter contents were sorted to the lowest taxonomic level possible and measured volumetrically. Claw tissue and putative food items were analyzed for ?13C and ?15N values to measure trophic position and the degree of niche overlap for T. s. elegansand P. gorzugi. We identified 13 novel food items in the fecal samples of P. gorzugi and demonstrate that P. gorzugiis a primarily algivorous and herbivorous turtle. Niche overlap between the two chelonian taxa was small (? 25.42%) with sliders occupying a higher trophic position than cooters. Data provided from the current study improves our understanding of how P. gorzugisatisfies its bioenergetic demands and may be useful for informing species and habitat management strategies.

    5.  16:00  Biofluorescence within Sexually Dimorphic Tree Frogs. Alexander Seymour*, St Cloud State University; Jennifer Lamb, St Cloud State University

    Multimodal communication occurs when a single message is sent across multiple sensory systems. During the mating season, male frogs within the Grey Treefrog complex (Hyla versicolor and H. chrysoscelis) develop a dark throat which, in combination with their call, to sends a multimodal signal. Biofluorescence occurs when an organism absorbs and emits light into the environment at a longer wavelength. Amphibians biofluoresce in response to ultra-violet and blue light, but previous studies have not focused on variation across individuals or the potential for sexually dimorphic signals to involve biofluorescence. In this research we ask how male and female Hyla versicolorand H. chrysoscelis biofluoresce, and if they biofluoresce differently. We photographed ventral surfaces of frogs in the field under white, ultra-violet (UV), and blue excitation lights, and collected fluorescent emission spectra from six individuals. Photographs were used to document biofluorescence and to quantify relative throat and body brightness under blue excitation light. Our results indicate that males and females within this complex biofluoresce in response to both UV and blue light, and that they do so differently. The throats of females fluoresce brightly whereas those of males do not. Other parts of the gross anatomy of the frogs fluoresced consistently across both sexes. These results demonstrate that there is variation in fluorescence among individuals. Our work provides fundamental knowledge about biofluorescence in the Grey Treefrog complex and points to future directions for research involving color, fluorescence, and mate choice within tree frogs.

    6.  16:00  Influence of Temperature on Passage Rate in Sceloporus consobrinus, With Comparison to Congeners. Allison Litmer*, University of Arkansas; Steven Beaupre, University of Arkansas

    Variation in energy acquisition, genetics, and environment determine life history traits among individuals, populations, and species. Therefore, influence of climate change may differ by population or even individual. Sceloporus lizards are used as model organisms for thermal biology, and climate modeling. However, it is often assumed that locally-measured thermal and bioenergetic responses apply among broadly similar species, and throughout intraspecific geographic range. The objective of this project was twofold: 1) to quantify the influence of temperature on passage rate inSceloporus consobrinusfrom Arkansas, and 2) compare the influence of temperature on passage rate between S. consobrinus, and published data on S. undulatus. Sceloporus consobrinus were assigned to a temperature treatment (30°C, 33°C, or 36°C) and fed crickets ad libitum. Passage rate was assessed by feeding lizards a cricket with a fluorescent marker, and checking feces every 4-6 hours for the marker. Comparisons of S. consobrinus were made to S. undulatus populations from New Jersey and South Carolina, reported in Angilletta (2001), who used similar methods. Treatments span the range of body temperatures all three populations experience. Results suggest that passage rate is similar among populations, with S. consobrinus being slightly slower. While the three populations are comparable in gut retention time, digestive assimilation may vary. A future study objective is to determine metabolizable energy intake at each temperature for comparison among populations. Such data are important for understanding the role of environmental factors and organismal properties, as well as variation among species, when determining response to climate change.

    7.  16:00  The Effects of Microbial Environment and Temperature on Neurodevelopment in Larval Amphibians. Kyle J. Emerson*, Duquesne University; Samantha S. Fontaine, University of Pittsburgh; Kevin D. Kohl, University of Pittsburgh; Sarah K. Woodley, Duquesne University

    Microbes colonize the vertebrate gastrointestinal (GI) tract at birth or hatching as part of a symbiotic relationship important to host development. These microbes shape host physiological development, including neurodevelopment, through the microbiota-gut-brain (MGB) axis. Many environmental factors impact the gut microbial composition and function, including microbial community and temperature. Amphibians are an excellent model to study the impacts of environmental factors on the MGB Axis because all of development occurs in the external environment. Here, we investigated whether manipulating the microbial environment as well as temperature impacted relative brain size and brain shape in Green Frog tadpoles (Lithobates clamitans). We hypothesized that a microbially diverse environment and warmer temperatures promotes brain development. We raised tadpoles in sterilized lab water seeded with 25% autoclaved pond water (depleted microbial environment) or 25% natural pond water (control) at 14, 22 or 28°C. Microbial depletion resulted in tadpoles with relatively smaller brains compared to control animals. Increasing temperatures resulted in tadpoles with relatively larger brains. We also found that temperature, but not microbial environment, affected brain shape. There were no interactions between microbial environment and temperature on brain development. These results support our hypothesis that manipulating the microbial environment as well as temperature during development influences neurodevelopment. Future studies will determine whether these changes in brain size and shape are related to differences in behavior or performance.

    8.  16:00  The Vascular Supply to the Parotoid Glands of the Japanese Toad, Bufo japonicus (Bufonidae). Helen Plylar*, Utah State University; Akira Mori, Kyoto University; Deborah Hutchinson, Facebook Reality Labs; Alan Savitzky, Utah State University

    Toads of the family Bufonidae generally possess parotoid glands, which are clusters of granular glands located posterodorsal to the tympanum, in the shoulder region. Parotoid glands are supplied by cutaneous arteries that connect to an extensive subcutaneous capillary network, which surrounds the individual secretory units of the gland. The extensive vasculature of the parotoid gland presumably supplies the gland with precursors to the bufadienolide toxins that are synthesized in the parotoids. The vascular supply to the parotoid glands has previously been described for four species of bufonids: Anaxyrus terrestris, Incilius alvarius, I. valliceps, and Rhinella marina. In A. terrestris and I. valliceps the majority of the blood supply to the glands is provided by the dorsal cutaneous arteries, whereas the glands of I. alvarius and R. marina receive blood from both the dorsal and lateral cutaneous arteries. The vascular supply to the parotoid glands has not yet been described in detail for any member of the of genus Bufo(sensu stricto). We examined the vascular supply in the Japanese toad, Bufo japonicus, by microCT scanning of specimens perfused with radio-opaque latex, supplemented with dissection. The size of the parotoid glands of B. japonicus is more similar to that of R. marina and I. alvarius,both of which possess substantially larger parotoids than do A. terrestris and I. valliceps.The latter two species, however, possess a larger number of secretory units per gland relative to either R. marina or I. alvarius.

    9.  16:00  The Neural Basis of Premating Reproductive Isolation in the Red-eyed Treefrog (Agalychnis callidryas). Shanelle Wikramanayake*, California State University Northridge; Florine Pascal, California State University Northridge; Kim Hoke, Colorado State University; Andres Vega, AMBICOR; Jeanne Robertson, California State University Northridge

    Premating reproductive isolation (RI) occurs when two lineages no longer recognize each other as mates. Multiple sexual signals are often used to attract mates during courtship. However, the contributions of each signal to mate choice is difficult to discern especially since the final outcome (mating/copulation) could be influenced by many other factors. We will assess the neurological basis of premating RI among diverging lineages of Agalychnis callidryas(Red-eyed treefrogs) to understand the relative contributions of call and colour pattern to mate choice in this system. We hypothesize that multiple signals elicit a stronger neural response than single signals (H1) and that mismatched signals (e.g., a local call but non-local colour) will change neural activity relative to local stimuli alone (H2). We will use microscopy and immunohistochemistry to quantify neural response and pair those data with observations of courtship behavior in a series of no-choice trials.

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