Term of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Stephen Greiman

Committee Member 1

Scott Harrison

Committee Member 2

Joshua Gibson


The mammalian gut microbiome has shown to be essential to host fitness and health assisting in both nutrient acquisition from diet as well as protection from pathogens and can include beneficial bacteria as well as parasites such as helminths and protozoans. In this study, I analyzed the cestode and bacterial communities found in the intestines of two North American species of shrew, Sorex monticola and Sorex cinereus. Specimens were collected approximately every three weeks from May to October during 2016 and 2017 as well as during April and May of 2018 and September of 2009 from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Cowles, New Mexico. A total of 186 shrews were dissected and surveyed for cestode and bacterial taxa. I extracted DNA from the whole GI tract of each specimen and amplified 2 loci (28S rRNA for cestodes and 16S rRNA for bacteria) using one-step PCR amplification and sequencing on an Illumina MiSeq. Collection month, shrew species, sex, and weight class all significantly influenced the gut microbiome communities in S. cinereus and S. monticola, however some of the effect of collection month and shrew species on community composition is likely due to variances in within-group distributions. Mathevolepis and Monocercus both significantly altered the bacterial community composition of their hosts, but further analysis could be conducted controlling for the presence of one or the other to parse out any confounding due to coinfection. This study provides novel descriptions of cestode taxa infecting S. monticola and provides a first survey of cestodes infecting shrews in New Mexico.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material


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Biology Commons