Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Biological Sciences; Natural Resources and the Environment

Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Rebecca Rowe


Molting, or replacement of pelage (hair) in mammals, occurs during ontogeny as individuals transition from juveniles to adults. Environmental factors can cause variation in molt in many species for thermoregulatory and camouflage purposes. Within and among years molt can vary by time and age or by reproductive status. Past studies have found differences in molt pattern and timing depending upon age, and between captive reared and wild caught individuals. There has been little investigation into the molting characteristics of Peromyscus leucopus and P. maniculatus, specifically in comparison to adults and juveniles. I used molt observed from museum specimens collected at Bartlett Experimental Forest over a three-year period to determine if there are evident molt patterns in both Peromyscus spp. Specifically, I looked for differences in percent molt and number of individuals molting as a result of seasonality and age. Molts were digitized in Photoshop and pattern and symmetry were analyzed in ImageJ. In both species, individuals show a seasonal trend in molt timing and symmetry. This may reflect differences in resource availability and energy expenditure among years.

Included in

Zoology Commons