Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Thomas C. Jones

Committee Members

Darrell Moore, Blaine Schubert


Circadian clocks enable coordination of essential biological and metabolic processes in relation to the 24-hour light cycle. However, there are many habitats that are not subject to this light cycle, such as the deep sea, arctic regions, and cave systems. This study analyzes the circadian pattern of isolated populations of a subterranean spider, Meta ovalis from two Tennessee caves and five Indiana caves. Locomotor activity was recorded with TriKinetics LAM50 Locomotor Activity Monitor under a 12-hour light (L), 12-hour dark (D) (LD 12:12) cycle preceding total darkness (DD). Significant differences were found within and among populations found in Tennessee cave systems in average free running period and onset of locomotor activity. Selection, drift, and genetic fixation are explored as the causes of variation in the present study, using M. ovalis as the model organism. All five caves in Indiana show little variation, whereas both Tennessee caves show large interindividual variation.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.