Department

Department of Zoology and Physiology

First Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Prather

Description

Many features influence reproductive success, and discerning the importance of specific features requires the ability to control and modulate variables independently. Previous studies have indicated that the amount of light that an animal is exposed to each day (photoperiod) is an important factor in determining reproductive success. Songbirds are ideal subjects for these studies because they are seasonal breeders, with breeding only occurring in the spring and summer. To modulate the photoperiod independently from the natural day/night cycle the birds were captured from the wild and brought indoors. House sparrows (Passer domesticus) were chosen for this experiment because of their success in breeding in many different locations and environments. Twenty females and 20 males were captured from the wild, placed in 4 cages each containing 5 birds of each sex, and photoperiod was manipulated to bring them into breeding condition. Our preliminary data reveal that nesting has occurred, indicating that breeding under controlled indoor conditions may be possible. Providing that birds are successfully bred indoors, future research will simulate photoperiod at different geographic locations to examine the effects of natural photoperiods on geographic variation in reproductive success.

Comments

Oral Presentation, UW Honors Program

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Influence of Photoperiod on Reproductive Success in House Sparrows

Many features influence reproductive success, and discerning the importance of specific features requires the ability to control and modulate variables independently. Previous studies have indicated that the amount of light that an animal is exposed to each day (photoperiod) is an important factor in determining reproductive success. Songbirds are ideal subjects for these studies because they are seasonal breeders, with breeding only occurring in the spring and summer. To modulate the photoperiod independently from the natural day/night cycle the birds were captured from the wild and brought indoors. House sparrows (Passer domesticus) were chosen for this experiment because of their success in breeding in many different locations and environments. Twenty females and 20 males were captured from the wild, placed in 4 cages each containing 5 birds of each sex, and photoperiod was manipulated to bring them into breeding condition. Our preliminary data reveal that nesting has occurred, indicating that breeding under controlled indoor conditions may be possible. Providing that birds are successfully bred indoors, future research will simulate photoperiod at different geographic locations to examine the effects of natural photoperiods on geographic variation in reproductive success.