Presentation Title

Urbanization: A Penalty or Gain for Wild Birds? A Study on the Phenological Differences in Rural and Urban Mountain Chickadees

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Presenter Information

Daylynne B. AgarFollow

Abstract

Mountain chickadees naturally nest in secondary cavities found in coniferous forests throughout North-America. However, they will also readily nest in artificial nest boxes often found in urban environments. During breeding season, caterpillars comprise about 80-90% of the mountain chickadee diet. Yet, this crucial food source has a short peak in abundance of only a few weeks after bud burst. Therefore, chickadees must use predictive cues to time their reproductive cycles so that caterpillars occur at a peak abundance when nestlings have the highest demand for food. However, if the cues occur earlier in the year than the climate variables that determine the peak in food abundance, it will lead to a phenological mismatch. Meteorological differences advance and prolong the growing season in urban habitats compared to nearby rural areas. Therefore, urban birds may reproduce earlier, and more frequently than rural birds. Data was collected from 10 rural and 15 urban nests around Kamloops. Mixed models will be created with the data collected, allowing us to compare the two environments. Thus, determining if urbanization alters the timing of caterpillar abundance and if caterpillar abundance drives the reproductive timing of mountain chickadees. For this study, we expect to see that the chickadees time their laying so that hatching coincides with peak food supply. However, we expect to see an overlap of peak food abundances in the two habitats. Therefore, we predict that there will not be a significant difference in the timing of reproduction between birds nesting in rural versus urban habitats.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Matthew Reudink

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Urbanization: A Penalty or Gain for Wild Birds? A Study on the Phenological Differences in Rural and Urban Mountain Chickadees

Mountain chickadees naturally nest in secondary cavities found in coniferous forests throughout North-America. However, they will also readily nest in artificial nest boxes often found in urban environments. During breeding season, caterpillars comprise about 80-90% of the mountain chickadee diet. Yet, this crucial food source has a short peak in abundance of only a few weeks after bud burst. Therefore, chickadees must use predictive cues to time their reproductive cycles so that caterpillars occur at a peak abundance when nestlings have the highest demand for food. However, if the cues occur earlier in the year than the climate variables that determine the peak in food abundance, it will lead to a phenological mismatch. Meteorological differences advance and prolong the growing season in urban habitats compared to nearby rural areas. Therefore, urban birds may reproduce earlier, and more frequently than rural birds. Data was collected from 10 rural and 15 urban nests around Kamloops. Mixed models will be created with the data collected, allowing us to compare the two environments. Thus, determining if urbanization alters the timing of caterpillar abundance and if caterpillar abundance drives the reproductive timing of mountain chickadees. For this study, we expect to see that the chickadees time their laying so that hatching coincides with peak food supply. However, we expect to see an overlap of peak food abundances in the two habitats. Therefore, we predict that there will not be a significant difference in the timing of reproduction between birds nesting in rural versus urban habitats.