Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 4-2022

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

Zoo and Conservation Science-BS


Biology & Earth Science


Sarah Bouchard

First Committee Member

Sarah Bouchard

Second Committee Member

David Sheridan

Third Committee Member

Cynthia Laurie-Rose


Specific Dynamic Action, Red Eared Slider, Ontogenetic Diet Shift, Reptile, Temperature

Subject Categories

Animal Sciences | Biology | Higher Education | Life Sciences


Specific dynamic action (SDA) is the energy expended during ingestion, digestion, absorption, and assimilation of a meal, and is influenced by meal (type, size, composition, and temperature) and environmental temperature. Understanding the effect of meal type and environmental temperature on SDA in turtles is important in describing how T. s. elegans may acclimate with changing environmental temperatures. In this study, we conducted feeding trials in which we fed juvenile T. s. elegans duckweed and mealworm diets at 25°C and 30°C. We measured the rate of oxygen consumption as a proxy for metabolic rate after feeding for four 30 minute consecutive intervals. There was a strong effect of diet on SDA, but only at 30°C. Peak metabolic rate was significantly higher for turtles fed mealworms than those fed duckweed at 30°C. At 25°C, there was no significant difference between metabolic rates for turtles fed mealworms and turtles fed duckweed. Both turtles that ate mealworms and turtles that ate duckweed had higher metabolic rates overall at 30°C than at 25°C. Our findings suggest that mealworms are not more costly to digest than duckweed for juvenile T. s. elegans at 25°C, and indicate that temperature increases the cost of digestion and SDA in both mealworm and duckweed diets. Our findings should provide supporting information for diet selection of juvenile T. s. elegans, and for determining how T. s. elegans might acclimate to changing thermal landscapes.

Licensing Permission

Copyright, all rights reserved. Fair Use