Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. David F. Westneat

Abstract

Behaviors can exhibit a wide degree of plasticity depending on the environmental context in which they are expressed. Despite this, repeatable differences have been found among and within individuals across a wide range of taxa. For my thesis, I investigated individual differences in foraging and parental care. In the first experiment, I assessed house sparrows (Passer domesticus) for domain-generality among neophobia, habituation and associative learning as they are all responses to novelty. While the results of the study find individual differences in each of these contexts the conclusion supported separate mechanisms for each response (domain-specificity). In the second experiment, I examined how the loudness of brood begging vocalizations influenced parent trip time, food load size brought to the nest and the amount of time spent in the box. The results of this study found individual differences in trip time and the time spent in the box with regard to the initial five seconds of begging loudness during a parent’s visit. Additionally, trip time was also influenced by the change in loudness within a visit. My findings reveal that individual variation may depend on the context in which individuals are measured.

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