Date of Graduation

Summer 2011


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Day Ligon


hibernation, climate change, physiology, metabolism, Kinosternon flavescens, yellow mud turtle, thermal ecology, blood chemistry

Subject Categories



Global warming is expected to increase stochasticity in geographical distributions of climate patterns. Non migratory species that hibernate during the winter months are particularly likely to experience reduced geographical. I assessed the degree to which hibernating yellow mud turtles (Kinosternon flavescens) were affected by warming winter temperatures. Temperature data collected by data loggers attached to turtles hibernating in the field were compared with soil temperature data. Turtles hibernated at a mean temperature of 9.0°;C and depth of 54 cm. To assess physiological capacity to tolerate variable winter conditions, blood chemistry profiles were measured at the beginning and end of simulated hibernation, and following recovery in water after hibernation ended. Most blood chemistry variables increased in concentration during hibernation then returned to pre-hibernation levels following post hibernation rehydration. Glucose alone was tightly regulated throughout hibernation. Finally, I measured O2 consumption and CO2 production at constant temperatures ranging 0.5–28°;C. Metabolic rate increased with temperature but respiratory quotients exhibited an inverse correlation with temperature. Estimated total energy consumption during natural hibernation is 38-51 kJ, depending on the size of the turtle, the duration of hibernation, and the temperature profile. I conclude from this study that these affects could be detrimental to K. flavescens by way of disruption of homeostasis through increased energy expenditure, ecological confusion regarding hibernation cues, or elevated metabolism during hibernation.


© Tyler R. Sanders

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