Minimizing the effects of human development on bird populations

Problem Title

Minimizing the effects of human development on bird populations

Scientific Title

The influence of habitat tructure on intraspecific variation in prairie warbler song

Student: 
Victoria Phu
Major(s): 
Biology
iCons Concentration: 
Biomedicine/Biosystems
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2015
Executive Summary 

In many bird species, song serves as a main form of communication, and plays a central role in mate attraction and territory defense. Because song and the ability to communicate reliably are critical to sustaining stable songbird populations, it is important to understand how different factors can impact communication. This is especially true for conservation purposes.

In my particular research, I am investigating the extent to which vegetative density influences the song characteristics of a population of male Prairie Warblers in the Montague Plains Wildlife Management area in Massachusetts. Certain aspects of song structure, including frequency, speed, and repetition, affect how well songs are transmitted though different vegetative environments. And while many studies have investigated vegetation dependent variation between several species, far fewer have investigated variation within a single species.

By comparing song measurements of a single population of male warblers to their corresponding geographic location, we can determine whether there is a correlation between chosen habitat type and song structure on the level of the individual. In understanding the environmental aspects of birdsong, we can provide insight into the effects that human development and interference will have on songbird populations. This knowledge will be critical in determining the best ways to minimize impacts on bird communities, and by extension, maintain healthy and balanced ecosystems.

Problem Keywords: 
Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area
Prairie warblers
songbird populations
Scientific Keywords: 
Prairie warbler
song characteristics
vegetative density