Date of Award

12-19-2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S.

Degree Program

Biological Sciences

Department

Biological Sciences

Major Professor

Grady, James

Second Advisor

Cashner, Robert

Third Advisor

Johnson, Steve

Abstract

Predators select for defensive adaptations, such as stings, toxins, and camouflage color patterns. Madtoms, Noturus, are diminutive catfishes with dorsal and pectoral stings. Thirteen of the 25 nominal species have serrated spines in the pectoral sting and a contrasting pigment pattern. Behavior of two saddled species, N. miurus and N. hildebrandi, and one uniformly colored species, N. leptacanthus, was investigated to test if the pigment pattern is camouflage. Saddle spacing and crypticity of the saddled species were measured against various substrates and were found to be unevenly spaced, which could be camouflage when viewed against gravel. Given substrate choices, madtoms preferred gravel during daylight conditions. In subsequent experiments, all species were given colored gravel to test color vs. texture-based substrate choice and preferred dark substrates. In the presence of a predator stimulus, madtoms preferred gravel at night and dawn. The pigment pattern likely is camouflage when viewed against gravel substrates.

Rights

The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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