Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. David F Sherry


The effects of overwinter temperature on behaviour and cognition, hippocampal volume, and reproductive timing were studied in Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus). I hypothesized that overwinter temperature would have varied effects for Black-capped chickadees that overwinter in northern climates. I found that temperature had no effect on behaviour and cognition, or hippocampal volume, but temperature did influence reproductive timing. Birds that experienced warmer winter conditions had significantly more developed gonads than birds that experienced colder conditions. These results suggest that while birds are clearly sensitive to ambient winter temperature, temperature only modulates some processes and not all. These studies provide the basis for continued exploration into the effects of environmental change on avian populations, and can help influence current and future conservation and policy decisions.

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