Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Michael R. Pelton

Committee Members

Sandy Echternacht, R. L. Murphree, Boyd L. Dearden


During the summers of 1974, 1975, and 1976, blood samples were taken from 124 black bears (Ursus americanus) captured in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hematological data were collected on 96 individual bears and serum parameters on 124 bears.

Counts of red cells, white cells, and platelets were performed on whole blood as well as determinations of hemoglobin concentration and hematocrits. Corrected white cell counts, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) were calculated. Serum samples were analyzed for glucose, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, sodium, potassium, chloride, carbon dioxide, uric acid, calcium, inorganic phosphorus, total protein, albumin, serum iron, cholesterol, triglyceride, alkaline phosphatase, lactic dehydrogenase (LDH), serum glutamicoxalacetic transaminase (SGOT), creatinine phosphokinase CPK), and total bilirubin. Statistical analysis in the form of least squares analysis of variance for unequal subclass size was performed on the data (P<0.05).

Hematocrit, levels of white blood cells and percentage of Neutrophils were higher in bears caught in snares while percentage of lymphocytes and eosinophils were lower; the variability seen in these parameters is attributed to the stress of the method of capture. MCHC levels were lower in yearling bears and reflect a dietary deficiency associated with a lack of vitamin B12 or, more generally, with a lack of animal matter. Counts of white blood cells, MCHC and percentage of neutrophils were higher in 1975 than 1976, while percentage of lymphocytes were lower. These variations may be related to dietary differences between trapping years and a possible higher incidence of disease in 1975. Monocyte levels were significantly lower in bears immobilized with Sernylan; no specific reason is noted for the difference.

Creatinine levels were higher in males than females and in adults than subadults. Such a relationship exists because the rate of production of creatinine depends on total muscle mass. Potassium, inorganic phosphorous, cholesterol, and alkaline phosphatase were higher in subadults than adults. Variation seen in potassium, uric acid and cholesterol depends on probable differences in food preferences. Fluctuation with age in inorganic phosphorous and alkaline phosphatase is related to the rapid bone growth in subadults. Glucose levels were elevated in bears captured in snares and are related to stress. BUN, uric acid, and glucose levels were higher in bears immobilized with M-99 while chloride and alpha globulin are elevated in bears captured with Sernylan. The fluctuations seen in chloride levels are related to the effects of the drug on the pH of the blood. The variations associated with BUN and uric acid are related in part to changes in kidney function associated with the drug type. The reasons for the changes in alpha globulin are not known. Reasons for the alterations of glucose levels are not known. Phosphorous, total bilirubin and carbon dioxide all were higher in 1974 than in 1975 or 1976, while chloride and sodium and potassium were lower. It is suggested that these differences are the result of differences in handling and storage techniques between the first year and the second two years. Glucose was higher in 1974 than in 1975 and 1976. Total protein, cholesterol, electrophoretic albumin and beta globulin were higher in 1975 than in 1974 and 1976, while albumin, alpha globulin and uric acid were highest in 1976. Changes in these parameters reflect dietary differences between years. SGOT and CPK levels were higher in 1974 than in 1975 and reflect a tendency by one clinical laboratory to report those values that were out of range as true maximum values instead of eliminating them as unusable. Alkaline phosphatase levels were higher in 1976, but no reason is postulated for this variation.

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