Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

James D. Fawcett

Second Advisor

Claudia M. Rauter

Third Advisor

Jeffrey A. French


The effects of chronic corticosterone (CORT) increases on the maternal behavior of the Prairie Skink, Plestiodon septentrionalis were studied in the laboratory during the summer of 2012. It was hypothesized that chronic increases in plasma CORT would result in decreased maternal effort and higher egg mortality, with similar results to analogous studies in birds. Plasma CORT was elevated using a non-invasive, exogenous treatment and behaviors were observed using video recordings. CORT treatments significantly reduced the amount of time spent tightly coiled around eggs in experimental individuals, and significantly decreased the amount of time experimental females spend in contact with their eggs in comparison to control females. The treatment also weakly increased the amount of time that experimental females spend outside the nest. No significant difference was found on mortality of eggs, however all eggs that successfully hatched were from control females. These results indicate decreases in maternal effort following increases in CORT similar to those found in avian studies, as well as studies on other vertebrates.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Biology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree Master of Science University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Copyright 2012 by Alexander James Anton.

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