Honors Program

Midway Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Joseph Bidwell

Thesis Professor Department

<--College of Arts and Sciences-->

Thesis Reader(s)

Daniel Hedden, Darrell Moore


Upon exposure to environmental stressors, amphibians such as Plethodon montanus will release corticosterone (CORT) thus causing a behavioral and physiological response to cope with the stress. Currently, there are several invasive ways of collecting CORT in salamanders. However, these techniques typically require euthanasia of the organism. We hypothesized that exposure of P. montanus to stressful handling conditions will result in elevations of CORT that can be detected through dermal swabbing. To test this, two experiments were conducted which involved swabbing the dorsal side of the trunk before and immediately after exposing P. montanus to two different environmental stressors. The first experiment involved placing P. montanus into a behavioral chamber for twelve hours while the second experiment involved restraining P. montanus in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel for ten minutes. While both experiments indicated an elevation in CORT after the respective treatments, between-replicate variability were high, and the differences were not statistically significant. The results of the first experiment did reveal a stress response when P. montanus were taken out of the chamber. The second experiment’s results also suggested that P. montanus did have an acute stress response when restrained. Future studies could replicate this research, but with a larger sample size and see if the results are congruent with the data obtained in this study.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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