Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Scott MacDougall-Shackleton

Second Advisor

Dr. Bill Roberts


Song is a phenotypic expression of male quality. According to the developmental stress hypothesis, birds subjected to stressful environments while their song system is developing should advertise this with a more simple song. The first aim of this study was to investigate whether song learning was reflective of learning abilities in general. The second aim was to determine what underlying physiological systems could be affected by stress early in development that may be responsible for altered song learning. A nutritional stressor was enforced in developing European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and song learning was measure in addition to learning in general. Physiological measures comprising growth rates, stress response and metabolic rates were taken. Results from this study suggest stress does negatively affect song and certain aspects of cognition. The onset at which stress is applied and sex are important factors in physiological changes in response to developmental stress.



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