Research On Capitol Hill 2014
This study investigated the physiological effects of localized habitat disturbance around well-studied hibernacula of the wandering gartersnake, Thamnophis elegans. After three years of monitoring snake populations, construction occurred at two hibernacula. Individuals from the two populations with construction events were compared to a control population with no construction. At the time of emergence from the hibernacula the year following construction, blood samples were collected upon capture and again following a uniform stressor. The plasma was analyzed using a radioimmunoassay to measure corticosterone levels and a bacterial killing assay to measure innate immunocompetence. There were differences in baseline and post-stress corticosterone levels between sites with construction and the control population, as well as differences between bacterial killing ability of the site with most human activity and the control site. Currently data is being analyzed to assess differences between years with and without construction events. Further research will allow a better understanding of the various effects of anthropogenic change on natural populations, allowing researchers to help make better decisions regarding urbanization, conservation policy, and environmental restoration. This study was funded through an URCO Grant from Utah State University.
Spence, Austin, "Physiological Effects of habitat disturbance in the Wandering Gartersnake (Thamnophis elegans)" (2014). Research On Capitol Hill 2014. Research on the Hill (Salt Lake City). Paper 20.