Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Willard, Scott T.

Committee Member

Memili, Erdogan

Committee Member

Ryan, Peter L.

Committee Member

Carr, Russell

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Animal Physiology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Animal Physiology Program


Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that is used to detect symmetry and asymmetry of surface temperature gradients. DITI can examine many different aspects of thermal physiology and diagnose injury and disease. The objectives of this study were (1) to investigate the use of DITI to determine whether differences in temperature gradients exist between late gestation and non-pregnant mares, (2) to evaluate whether velvet antler (VA) temperature gradients, as measured by DITI would pattern VA growth, and (3) to determine if “normal” temperature gradients of the foot exist among elephants as detected using DITI. To investigate these objectives, three experiments were conducted to determine the value of DITI for research on mammals. Results obtained from the first study indicate DITI was able to detect pregnancy in the horse during late gestation. In the second study DITI successfully patterned the growth and hardening of VA. While in the third study DITI demonstrated its value as a tool to increase overall welfare for captive elephants. In summary these studies suggests that DITI may have value in conducting research with domestic and non-domestic species that are not able to be restrained.