Presentation Title

The Effects of Hatch-order, Gender and Clutch Sex-ratios on the Behaviour of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Presenter Information

John C. GrayFollow

Abstract

The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) builds its nests in burrows dug by various burrowing species of mammals. These owls have an asynchronous hatch. Female Burrowing Owls begin incubating each egg as soon as it is laid. As a result, earlier laid eggs hatch earlier than those laid later in a clutch. This asynchronous hatch results in age and thus size differences between the first and last hatched chicks of a clutch. Due to the size advantage, the earlier hatched chicks within a clutch may not need to be as aggressive to get food. In contrast, later-hatched chicks may be more aggressive since they must compensate for their size disadvantage to get enough food. Burrowing Owls mate monogamously and the members of a pair have different roles. Males spend much of the time outside of the burrow, guarding the nest and hunting for themselves and their mates. Females, on the other hand, spend more time inside the burrow, incubating and caring for the young. As a result of their different roles, males may be more dominant and aggressive, compared to females. In this study, I examine the possible effects of an asynchronous hatch order, gender and the effects of gender ratios within a clutch on the intraspecific behaviour of young Burrowing Owls.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Nancy Flood

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The Effects of Hatch-order, Gender and Clutch Sex-ratios on the Behaviour of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)

The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) builds its nests in burrows dug by various burrowing species of mammals. These owls have an asynchronous hatch. Female Burrowing Owls begin incubating each egg as soon as it is laid. As a result, earlier laid eggs hatch earlier than those laid later in a clutch. This asynchronous hatch results in age and thus size differences between the first and last hatched chicks of a clutch. Due to the size advantage, the earlier hatched chicks within a clutch may not need to be as aggressive to get food. In contrast, later-hatched chicks may be more aggressive since they must compensate for their size disadvantage to get enough food. Burrowing Owls mate monogamously and the members of a pair have different roles. Males spend much of the time outside of the burrow, guarding the nest and hunting for themselves and their mates. Females, on the other hand, spend more time inside the burrow, incubating and caring for the young. As a result of their different roles, males may be more dominant and aggressive, compared to females. In this study, I examine the possible effects of an asynchronous hatch order, gender and the effects of gender ratios within a clutch on the intraspecific behaviour of young Burrowing Owls.