Where life begins...

Dr. David Saunders

David Saunders
(319) 273-2456
McCollum Science Hall 144
  • B.S. Oklahoma Panhandle State University, 1984 (Biology)
  • M.S. Emporia State University, 1986 (Zoology)
  • Ph.D. Kansas State University, 1992 (Physiology)
Teaching Interests: 
Human Anatomy and Physiology Bioscientific Terminology Mammalian Physiology General Biology Environmental Physiology

Coagulation Mechanisms in Hibernating Reptiles and Amphibians

My research lab is interested in the blood clotting mechanisms in reptiles and amphibians. These animals are ectothermic in that their body temperatures are very similar to the temperature of the environment that surrounds them. Blood clotting is temperature dependent in endotherms (mammals and birds), with an increase in the time it takes to develop a blood clot occurring with decreasing temperature. However, little is known about the effects of temperature clotting in ectotherms. Further, ectotherms may have body temperatures that will be close to freezing during hibernation, temperatures birds and mammals never experience. As such, they may have different mechanisms that control clotting.

The Effect of Red Blood Cell Size on Red Blood Cell Strength

Red blood cell (erythrocyte) strength can be measured by determining point at which the cell will lyse (break apart) when exposed to osmotic stress. Previous research from my lab has shown that larger red blood cells, like those that occur in reptiles and amphibians, are more resistant to lysing than are smaller red blood cells found in birds and mammals. We are now looking into the mechanisms that might play a role in the strength of larger red blood cells. These include the role of ion channels in regulatory volume decrease, and potential structural components of the cell membrane of larger red blood cells.


Saunders, D.K. and J.W. Parrish. (1987) Assimilated energy of seeds consumed by scaled quail in Kansas. J. Wildl. Manag. 51(4):787-790.

Parrish, J.W. and D.K. Saunders. (1989) Simplified cage modification to reduce self-induced injury in confined birds. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 17:80-81.

Saunders, D.K. and M.R. Fedde. (1991) Physical conditioning: Effect on the myoglobin concentration in skeletal and cardiac muscle of bar-headed geese. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 100A: 349-352.

Kilgore, J.L., B.F. Timson, D.K. Saunders, R.R. Kraemer, R.D. Klemm and C.R. Ross. (1994) Stress protein induction in skeletal muscle: comparison of laboratory models to naturally occurring hypertrophy. J. Appl. Physiol. 76(2): 598-601.

Saunders, D.K. and R.D. Klemm. (1994) Seasonal changes in the metabolic properties of muscle in blue-winged teal. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 107A: 63-68.

Saunders, D.K. and M.R. Fedde (1994) Exercise performance of birds. In "Comparative Vertebrate Exercise Physiology" (J. Jones ed.) Advances in Veterinary Science and Comparative Medicine, Vol 38B. Academic Press. Invited Book Chapter.

Saunders, D.K. (1996) Muscle Names, Kansas School Naturalist Vol 42(1): 1-14, Emporia State University. Emporia, KS.

Brown, R.E. and D.K. Saunders (1998) Programmed adjustments of body weight and muscle mass in birds for the earliest return to flight following molt. Canadian Journal of Zoology 76: 26-32.

Saunders, D.K. and K.H. Patel. (1998) Comparison of blood viscosity in red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta) adapted to cold and room temperatures. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 281:157-163.

Gustafson, P.E, R. Keith, and D.K. Saunders. (1998) Digital image processing as a computing tool in an interdisciplinary science course. Journal of Computing in Small Colleges, 13(4): 312- 317.

Gustafson, P.E. and D.K. Saunders. (1998) A wave equation model of rattlesnake rattle motion. Proceedings of the 14th Annual Conference on Applied Mathematics.

Saunders, D.K., O. Fowler, and K.N. Smalley. (2000) The effects of estradiol treatment on the blood viscosity of the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Sciences, 103(1-2): 38-45.

Saunders, D.K., A.C. Roberts, and G.R. Ultsch. (2000) Blood viscosity and hematological changes during prolonged submergence in normoxic water of northern and southern musk turtles (Sternotherus odoratus). Journal of Experimental Zoology, 287, 459-466.

Aldrich, K.J. and D.K. Saunders, (2001) Comparison of erythrocyte osmotic fragility among ectotherms and endotherms at three temperatures. Journal of Thermal Biology, 26(3):179-182.

Keith, R., Saunders, D., and Yanik,E. (2001) Integrative Science Studies: Mathematical and Physical Modeling of Biological Systems, Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics.

Lebelo, S.L., D.K. Saunders, and T.G. Crawford. (2001) Effects of stress on various blood parameters and blood viscosity in striped bass, Morone saxatilis (Walbaum). Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Sciences, 104(3-4): 183-194.

Palenske, N.M. and D.K. Saunders. (2002) Blood viscosity comparisons between amphibians and mammals at 30C and 380C. Journal of Thermal Biology 27(6): 31-36.

Saunders, D.K., A.C. Roberts, K.J. Aldrich, and B. Cuthbertson. (2002) Hematological and blood viscosity changes in tail suspended rats. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine 73:647-653.

Saunders, D.K. and L.M. Sievert. (2002) Providing students the opportunity to think critically and creatively through student designed laboratory exercises. Bioscene 28(2): 9-15.

Saunders, D.K., R.L. Keith, E. G. Yanik, and P. Gustafson. (2003) A marriage of sciences: the value of interdisciplinary research in undergraduate education. Journal of College Science Teaching, Vol XXXII, Number 6.

Palenske, N.M. and D.K. Saunders. (2003) Blood viscosity and hematology American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) at low temperature. Journal of Thermal Biology, 28(4): 271-277.

Kilgore, J.L., C.R. Ross, and D.K. Saunders. (2003) Potential effects of anesthetic agents on heat shock proteins in the laboratory rat. Texas Journal of Science. 55(2):149-158.

Keith, R.L., D.K. Saunders, and E.G. Yanik. (2003) Digital Imaging Investigations. The Science Teacher, 70(7): 62-66.

Wyatt, G., D.K. Saunders, and D. Zelmer (2005) Academic preparation, effort and success: a comparison of student and faculty perceptions. Education Research Quarterly, 29(2): 29-36.

Bonebrake-Barriger, L. and D.K. Saunders. (2006) The Case of the Disappearing Snack. Science & Children, 43(8): 36-39.

Post, D.M., Snyder, M.V., Finck, E.J., and D.K. Saunders (2006) Caching as a strategy for surviving periods of resource scarcity; a comparative study of two species of Neotoma. Functional Ecology, 20: 717-722.

Aldrich, K.J., Saunders, D.K., Sievert, L., and Sievert, G. (2006) Comparison of erythrocyte osmotic fragility among amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, 109(3-4): 149-158.