Honors Program

Honors in Biology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Joseph R. Bidwell

Thesis Professor Department

Biological Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Rebecca Pyles, Richard T. Carter


Behavioral fever is an essential coping mechanism across ectothermic phyla to aid in combating pathogenic threats. Ectotherms lack internal temperature regulation associated with fever in endotherms; thus, ectotherms can exhibit a behavioral fever response when immunocompromised to thermoregulate by moving to warmer locations. The salamander order Caudata, tend to be keystone species in their resident ecosystems through their role as secondary consumers of invertebrates to maintain the food chain. With growing interest about ecology and conservation of salamanders as species diversity declines, this study was designed to determine if salamanders use their environment to take advantage of behavioral fever. The lungless salamander, Plethodon glutinosus, was used to investigate behavioral fever through exposure to the synthetic viral pyrogen polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (Poly (I:C)) at doses of 15 µg/g by live wet weight. After 24 hours, the induced fever specimens were placed in a linear temperature gradient with a controlled humidity of 95% throughout. Average temperature preferences were then monitored over a 12-hour period and resulted in control animals preferring cold and moderate temperatures between 15-19 °C while all poly (I:C) injected animals preferred higher temperatures from 19-21°C (p<<0.0001). This result supports that P. glutinous responds to immunocompromising threats such as presented by synthetic viral pyrogen Poly (I:C) through use of behavioral fever.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.