Department Chair

Dr. Daniel Potts

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Biology, M.A.


Biology Department


Dr. Christopher Pennuto

First Reader

Dr. Christopher Pennuto

Second Reader

Dr. Amy McMillan

Third Reader

Dr. Robert Warren


Environmental context changes the behavior and morphology of organisms. The impacts of flow on sampling techniques and morphology of the Common Mudpuppy were investigated during this study. I also explored mudpuppy distribution in western New York, diet, sexual dimorphism, seasonality, and capture biases. I found rock turning to be more efficient in streams year-round and modified minnow traps to be better more efficient in cold weather months and in deeper habitats than in other seasons or habitats. During the hot weather months, mudpuppy diet consisted of invertebrates exclusively, whereas diets in cold weather months consisted of invertebrates plus vertebrate prey. Body condition reflected the change in diet, with larger body condition when large prey items were found in gut contents. Stream-captured mudpuppies were more streamlined and possessed larger digits than lake-captured mudpuppies. Mudpuppy morphological differences between habitat types indicate phenotypic plasticity as the likely mechanism of morphological change when viewed in light of other published phylogenetic work on regional haplotypes. The findings of morphological response to flow warrant more investigation with common garden experiments. Expanding the common garden experiment to encompass future changes in temperature will help inform managers on how climate change may affect mudpuppy populations.