Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Department of Biological Sciences

Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

David Needle


Sarcoptic mange is a parasitic skin disease that affects countless mammals worldwide, including red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). The symptoms, such as hair loss, crusting, and the number of mites, vary between individual foxes. Sarcoptic mange damages the skin barrier, which in turn disrupts the biodiversity of bacteria in the microbiome. It is unknown what the biodiversity of bacteria is at each stage of the disease. This experiment will compare the microbiomes of different samples with and without mange; in hopes to reveal a connection between the different severities of sarcoptic mange and the biodiversity of bacteria and fungi living on the skin. To conduct this experiment, macroscopic and microscopic features will be classified with Pence’s and Nimmervoll’s protocol. Samples will be sent to the Hubbard Genome Center for amplicon sequencing to assess bacterial (16s) and fungal (ITS) populations. I expect to see biodiversity of bacteria to decrease as the severity of sarcoptic mange increases. In the case of fungi, biodiversity will increase as the disease worsens. The outcome of this study will help build a better understanding of how sarcoptic mange affects mammals.

Included in

Zoology Commons