Effect of Captivity on Chemical Profiles of the Sexual Attractiveness Pheromone of the Red-Sided Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/pn89d879z

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  • This study investigated the effect of captivity on the chemical profiles of the female sexual attractiveness pheromone of the red-sided garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis). Dorsal skin lipids were extracted from female garter snakes collected from the Interlake region of Manitoba, Canada. A comparison of captive and wild snakes was conducted at two time points: fall 2014, and spring 2014, seasons that correspond to hibernation and breeding respectively. Once collected, the lipid samples were weighed, and the methyl ketones comprising the pheromone blend were isolated by column chromatography. The pheromone profiles were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively via gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The fall 2014 comparison revealed that captive females produced pheromones of higher quantity and quality relative to wild snakes. The spring comparison showed a higher quantity of pheromone produced by captive females, but the quality of pheromone did not differ significantly between the groups. These results suggest that variables of the captive environment that differ from those of the wild condition may be affecting the pheromone profile of red-sided garter snakes. Also, these effects only alter female attractiveness before hibernation, and not during the reproductive season, suggesting that male mate choice during breeding is unaffected by captivity.
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