Event Title

Plasticity in Alligator Skulls

Presenter Information

Dorothy Skates

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Natural Sciences

Major

Biology

Location

RM 215-218

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Tomasz Owerkowicz

Start Date

5-27-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

5-27-2014 5:30 PM

Abstract

Differences in skull width between American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) raised on alligator farms versus alligators living in the wild have been noticed, with wild alligators having wider skulls. This project is aimed at determining if the mechanism which causes this difference is the death roll behavior, which is performed by wild alligators and not by the alligators on farms. To test this, we will have two experimental groups (n=40 per group) made up of yearling alligators. One group will be fed bone-in chicken pieces, clamped in a holder such that the alligators will be required to perform a death roll in order to eat. The other group will be fed chicken which is pre-chopped. Alligators will be size and clutch matched. We will also be using strain gauges to measure strain on the alligator’s skulls during the different feeding behaviors. After this feeding protocol is followed for six months we hope to be able to see measurable effects of performing the death roll behavior in skull width, compared with vent-snout length and overall skull length.

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May 27th, 1:00 PM May 27th, 5:30 PM

Plasticity in Alligator Skulls

RM 215-218

Differences in skull width between American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) raised on alligator farms versus alligators living in the wild have been noticed, with wild alligators having wider skulls. This project is aimed at determining if the mechanism which causes this difference is the death roll behavior, which is performed by wild alligators and not by the alligators on farms. To test this, we will have two experimental groups (n=40 per group) made up of yearling alligators. One group will be fed bone-in chicken pieces, clamped in a holder such that the alligators will be required to perform a death roll in order to eat. The other group will be fed chicken which is pre-chopped. Alligators will be size and clutch matched. We will also be using strain gauges to measure strain on the alligator’s skulls during the different feeding behaviors. After this feeding protocol is followed for six months we hope to be able to see measurable effects of performing the death roll behavior in skull width, compared with vent-snout length and overall skull length.