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Biologist studies reproductive anatomy in reptiles

Contact: Rene Abadie


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David Sever

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STUDYING REPTILES -- David Sever, head of the Southeastern Louisiana University Department of Biological Sciences, uses the university’s electron microscope in his National Science Foundation-sponsored study of the reproductive anatomy of reptiles.

     HAMMOND – A Southeastern Louisiana University biologist has been awarded a $230,000 grant to study the development of male sexual characteristics in snakes and lizards.

     The National Science Foundation made the three-year award to David Sever, head of the Southeastern Department of Biological Sciences. A widely recognized herpetologist, Sever will compare the reproductive organs at the cellular level in a variety of lizards and snakes.

     “This is basic science into the anatomy of these reptiles, and few cellular studies have been done on the reproductive systems,” Sever explained. “By studying the similarities and differences in the anatomy of organisms, we gain a better understanding of how the reptiles are related in an evolutionary sense.”

     He said the research will focus on the diversity in the structure of reproductive organs and relate this to the history of relationships among vertebrates.

     “We know a lot about these organs and systems in humans and domestic animals, but very little about the diversity of their anatomy in other animals,” he added. “This research will help fill in some of those gaps in our scientific knowledge.”

     Sever, who has published more than 120 papers, mostly on the anatomy of reproductive systems in amphibians and reptiles, will use the recently upgraded electron microscopy facilities at Southeastern to conduct the cellular studies. The project will also involve assistance from two graduate students and several undergraduate students.

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