Characterizing stress and immune parameters in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Hamilton, Matthew Thomas
MetadataShow full item record
Crocodilians are exposed to a suite of abiotic and biotic stressors that have the potential to influence individual and population health. I collected pre- and post-stressor blood and tissue samples from 40 juvenile captive alligators using a short-term capture and handling stress protocol to evaluate the short-term effects of stress on six commonly used wildlife stress and immune metrics, and to validate the use of tail scute tissue samples for quantifying corticosterone concentrations. I found that the short-term stressor of capture and restraint caused significant increases in plasma corticosterone and lactate concentrations, percent heterophils, and H:L ratios, while a significant decrease in percent lymphocytes. I reliably extracted corticosterone from scute tissues, however the significant increase in scute corticosterone concentrations following the short-term stressor necessitates further investigation before applying this technique broadly across crocodilian research. These studies highlight the importance of evaluating the effects of capture methods when investigating environmental stressors.