Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 2019

Document Type



French, S. (2019).Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata) Immune Response to Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus in Summer Versus Winter Months. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Sarah French 2019.


Previous studies on ectothermic reptiles have shown seasonal changes in immune response (Zimmerman et al., 2010, Lind et al., 2017, French et al. 2009). These immune changes are often attributed to an increase in corticosterone levels in the winter (Brischoux et al. 2015). However, research into the immune response of ornate box turtles (Terrapene ornata ornata) is extremely limited. Immune assays were performed on blood plasma taken from ornate box turtles in both summer and winter months. Staphylococcus aureusand Escherichia coli were used as the experimental pathogens. Ornate box turtles showed a higher immune response to E. colithan to S. aureusand higher immune response in the winter than in the summer. This is contradictory to how the stress-hormone, corticosterone should theoretically interact with the immune system during winter hibernation (Brischoux et al. 2015).