Neil B. Ford

Neil B. Ford
University of Texas at Tyler · Department of Biology

About

110
Publications
12,305
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2,061
Citations
Citations since 2016
17 Research Items
518 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080

Publications

Publications (110)
Preprint
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In North America, freshwater unionids are one of the most endangered taxa and have been historically poorly studied. Of Texas unionid species, 65% of them to are considered rare by state and federal agencies. Focused research and conservation efforts are especially necessary in aquatic habitats in order to sustain mussel populations. This study foc...
Article
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An increase in extreme droughts and floods is expected with current and future climate changes. Such extreme climate events may have long-lasting impact on more sessile organisms, such as unionid freshwater mussels, which are highly imperiled. The objective of our study was to test specific predictions for the impact of an extreme drought in 2011/2...
Preprint
Few ecological niche models (ENM) incorporate the Eltonian niche or examine a population’s niche at multiple spatial scales. We used Bayesian Joint Species Distribution Models (JSDMs) across multiple spatial scales to examine whether freshwater mussel communities in east Texas adhered to the Eltonian Noise Hypothesis, which asserts that species int...
Article
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Pleurobema riddellii is a state listed unionid in Texas, proposed for potential USFWS protections. Life history information is critical to determine whether a species warrants protection and to ensure that effective conservation measures are implemented. The Neches River is the only Texas river with substantial numbers of P. riddellii. In 2014, we...
Article
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Identification of biodiversity hot spots is necessary for developing conservation strategies. The south‐eastern U.S.A. harbours high aquatic biodiversity; however, this diversity is threatened as a result of anthropogenic activities. We report patterns of fish and mussel biodiversity, locate hotspots of diversity and endemism, and identify gaps in...
Article
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Freshwater mussels in the family Unionidae are a diverse faunal group in North America. Anthropogenic disturbances have caused many unionid species to be listed as threatened, endangered, or of concern across the USA. Previous studies have shown that substrate stability, which is related to flow and sediment size, is an important predictor of the r...
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Early-life experiences can have far-reaching consequences for phenotypes into adulthood. The effect of early-life experiences on fitness, particularly under adverse conditions, is mediated by resource allocation to particular life-history traits. Reptiles exhibit great variation in life histories (e.g. indeterminate growth), thus selective pressure...
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Unionid freshwater mussels are one of the most imperilled groups in North America. They play an important role in freshwater ecosystems, both as a food source and as filter feeders. Their priority conservation status has generated interest in unionid research. Here, data from the US Geological Survey was used to produce predictive models of mussel...
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The impoundment of running waters is a threat to freshwater mussels and has only been cursorily examined in Texas. To address this, we evaluate mussel assemblage structure in the Sabine River downstream of a flood control and hydropower reservoir. We use the serial discontinuity concept (SDC) and the Life History Continuum model (LHCM) to explain r...
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Freshwater mussel composition and abundance in stream ecosystems are influenced by changes in environmental and hydrologic forces related to stream size. Mussel assemblages in headwater areas tend to be depauperate but distinctive, with species richness and abundance increasing rapidly with increasing stream size. We compared the mussel assemblages...
Article
Snakes exhibit large factorial increments in oxygen consumption during digestion, and physical activity, and long-lasting sub-maximal increments during reproduction. Under natural conditions, all three physiological states may occur simultaneously, but the integrated response is not well understood. Adult male and female Checkered Gartersnakes (Tha...
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Although the trade-off between offspring size and the number of offspring is a critical component of life-history theory, many empirical tests fail to show that such trade-off exists. Although this may be due to statistical issues (i.e. failure to control for maternal body size), other complications such as female body shape may play a role as well...
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We assessed predation on a threatened freshwater mussel, Potamilus amphichaenus, in the Sabine River in eastern Texas during the 2011 drought. We examined 79 recently deceased mussels, and 58 of these had signs indicating predation as the cause of death. This evidence and the absence of live specimens suggest that predation during low flow may cont...
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Atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States. Despite the effectiveness of atrazine in eliminating broadleaf and grassy weeds, there has been growing concern over the potential impacts this chemical may have on non-target organisms. Little research has been conducted on the exposure of reptiles to this chemical. Our stu...
Conference Paper
Recently, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department listed 6 species of mussels that occur in East Texas as threatened. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering some of these species for federal listing. Ten species of fish that occur in East Texas rivers are also listed as threatened or species of concern. In 2008, we began intensively surv...
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The Western Lesser Siren, Siren intermedia nettingi, is a fully aquatic, paedomorphic salamander. The foraging ecology of S. i. nettingi is poorly understood in part because of its nocturnal, benthic nature. We examined sensory mediation of S. i. nettingi foraging behavior focusing on how chemical and visual stimuli may be used to find prey. Specif...
Article
Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a member of the vertebrate insulin/insulin-like growth factor/relaxin gene family necessary for growth, reproduction, and survival at both the cellular and organismal level. Its sequence, protein structure, and function have been characterized in mammals, birds, and fish; however, a notable gap in our current...
Conference Paper
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Background/Question/Methods The Western lesser siren, Siren intermedia nettingi, is a fully aquatic, paedomorphic salamander. This species is nocturnal and feeds on a variety of aquatic prey including crayfish, annelids, amphibian larvae and eggs, gastropods, and aquatic insects and their larvae. However, the foraging behavior of S. i. nettingi i...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods The population decline of rare and endangered fish and mussel species has become a topic of concern. The Sabine shiner, Notropis sabinae, blue sucker, Cyleptus elongatus, creek chubsucker, Erimyzon oblongus, sandbank pocketbook, Lampsilis satura, southern hickorynut, Obovaria jacksoniana, Louisiana pigtoe, Pleurobema ri...
Chapter
The endocrine system comprises a diverse array of hormonal signaling pathways that regulate the expression of key life-history traits, such as developmental and growth rates, and timing and magnitude of reproductive effort. The role of hormones in the expression of life-history traits has become increasingly of interest in the field of evolutionary...
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BioOne (www.bioone.org) is an electronic aggregator of bioscience research content, and the online home to over 160 journals and books published by not-for-profit societies, associations, museums, institutions, and presses. ABSTRACT: One of the most important life-history traits for organisms is age at first reproduction. The benefits of early repr...
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One critical life-history trait for organisms is how energy is allocated among the individual offspring they produce. One way of examining the expected trade-off between number of offspring and offspring size is by examining how females respond to different amounts of resources. It has been predicted that females with increased energy uptake should...
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Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a peptide hormone critically involved in the regulation of key life-history traits such as growth and reproduction. Its structure and function are well-characterized among diverse mammal, fish, and bird species; however, little is known regarding the activities of IGF-1 in non-avian reptiles, particularly sna...
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North American freshwater mussels are diverse and ecologically important, but are highly imperiled as a result of alterations to river habitat. The southern hickorynut (Obovaria jacksoniana) occurs in the southeastern United States and has recently been listed as threatened in Texas; however, minimal information exists on its habitat associations a...
Article
Floodplain forests are among the most threatened habitats in North America. We used the richness, abundance and diversity of amphibians and reptiles to assess the effects of habitat modifications at the Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Area (OSBWMA) in Smith County, Texas, USA. Amphibians and reptiles were surveyed using artificial cover objec...
Article
Populations of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) are declining for reasons that are primarily anthropogenic. The Texas Administrative Code lists 18 freshwater mussel sanctuaries ("no-take" areas) within Texas stream segments and reservoirs with three being on the Sabine River in northeast Texas. Visits to each Sabine River sanctuary were mad...
Article
Species-abundance distributions often form a log series curve with a few common species and a large proportion of rare species. Niche apportionment and random processes such as dispersal and local extinction are reflected in the structuring of abundance ranks among species within a community. Bottomland hardwood forests of the southern United State...
Article
Actively foraging species of snakes often consume large numbers of small prey, which creates a high meal to snake mass ratio. Because they may also rely on speed to avoid predation, this might negatively influence survival. We examined the diet of 313 western ribbon snakes (Thamnophis proximus Say in James, 1823), a very attenuated species, in a fl...
Article
Recreational all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use is known to cause extensive environmental damage in xeric habitats, however their impact has been poorly studied in floodplain ecosystems. Floodplains are complex and important wetland habitats due to their high primary productivity and biodiversity. In this study, amphibians and reptiles are used as indic...
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We studied the ecology of the checkered garter snake, Thamnophis marcianus, in a desert grassland in southeastern Arizona. The adult sex ratio was 0.67 M:F and varied significantly among seasons. As with other species of Thamnophis, adult females were significantly larger than males in SVL and body mass, and females also had longer jaws. Activity o...
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The impact of roads on amphibian and reptile numbers at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Area (OSBWMA), a bottomland hardwood forest was studied from 1 June 2003 to 1 June 2004 by vehicular and pedestrian surveys. One weekly survey was conducted in the morning and the other in late afternoon. Vehicular sur...
Article
Organisms may become adapted to disturbances when these disturbances occur periodically and at intermediate intensity. To investigate the effects of flood suppression, this study compared diet and competition of semi-aquatic snakes during flood (2000–2001) and no flood (2003–2005) years. Three natricine species, Nerodia erythrogaster (Forster in Bo...
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This study examined diversity and abundance of freshwater mussels (Family Unionidae) in the Sabine River and an old channel of the river that occur within the boundaries of the Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Area (OSBWMA) of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Nine sites on the river and nine sites on the Old Channel each 40m in...
Article
Intra-individual variation can be extremely informative in understanding the evolution of life-history traits. In this study, we examined intra-individual variation in clutch and offspring size for brown house snakes Lamprophis fuliginosus, a species that can lay up to six clutches in the laboratory within a 12-month interval without a refractory p...
Article
Biological surveys provide information important to developing successful management strategies. Monitoring techniques can, however, be biased and studies on the optimal methods to use for different organisms are useful. Amphibians and reptiles were surveyed using several techniques at Camp Maxey, a 2570 ha. Army National Guard training site locate...
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Reproductive data on the western cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma, are scarce, generally incomplete, and usually based on pooled years for a given area. Current paradigms suggest that reproductive output in snakes can be influenced by local resource availability so temporal variation is important to document. Pregnant female western c...
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Recently mated females of some species experience a refractory period following mating during which a physiological change or a mating plug prevents remating. Males that determine female mating status from a distance will minimize time spent searching for mates by avoiding unavailable females. Female red-sided garter snakes experience a refractory...
Article
Excessive concentrations of dietary Se are toxic to oviparous vertebrates (i.e., fish and birds) but little is known about its accumulation and effects in reptiles. We exposed female brown house snakes, Lamprophis fuliginosus, to 10 and 20 microg/g Se by injecting seleno-D,L-methionine into their prey items and compared the snakes to individuals re...
Article
Data sets on the reproductive biology of the western ribbon snake, Thamnophis proximus, in general, emphasize either characteristics related to the females or to the offspring but not both. In addition, records from multiple years at a given locality are rare. Gravid female T. proximus were collected for three consecutive years (1999-2001) from a b...
Article
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Daily and seasonal variations in hormone levels influence the complex interactions between behavior and physiology. Ectothermic animals possess the unique ability behaviorally to adjust body temperature (T(b)) to control physiological rate processes. Thus, a hormone may indirectly influence a physiological rate by directly influencing the behaviors...
Article
Summary Previous experiments showed that Checkered Garter Snakes (Thamnophis marcianus) from south Texas, USA (an environment subject to high seasonal and annual variation in environmental conditions), demonstrated marked phenotypic plasticity in clutch size and clutch mass in response to experimental changes in prey availability. In this study, th...
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The brown house snake, Lamprophis fuliginosus, is one of the most common and widespread African snakes, ranging from southern Africa up to Senegal in the west and to Eritrea and Sudan in the east (Broadley 1983). Some reproductive data on this species are available in the literature as it readily breeds in captivity. However, these records usually...
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Spatial abilities are important in mediating natural behaviors in snakes, such as localization of refuges. Twelve spotted pythons (Anteresia maculosus) were trained to find the location of an escape hole in a circular arena, given a choice of eight holes. A snake was deemed to have learned the task if it found the goal on eight out of the last ten...
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The stomach contents of a series of 96 specimens of Agkistrodon contortrix from two adjoining counties in northeastern Texas were examined. Arthropods comprized the majority of prey items (53%) but lizards, snakes and a few rodents were also consumed by southern copperheads. Neonate and small copperheads (less than 35 cm SVL) were found to contain...
Article
Snakes have unique qualifications as experimental subjects, and the use of these animals in behavioral research has gradually increased. They have been models for comparative studies of innate prey preferences and for studies on sensory signals involved in reproductive behavior. Examples from these studies indicate the importance of keeping in mind...
Article
1. We examined the effect of differential energy input on age at first reproduction in an oviparous snake, Elaphe guttata, to address two questions: (i) Does changing energy input in neonates result in changes in size or age at maturity, or are these traits fixed? and (ii) How do the resulting differences in age or size at reproduction (if any) tra...
Article
1. We tested the effect of manipulating food intake on variance in clutch size and offspring size in a viviparous snake (Thamnophis marcianus). 2. We found that among-female variance in clutch size and offspring size was unaffected by changing food intake, whereas within-female variance in offspring size was higher in females receiving more food. 3...