Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Scott MacDougall-Shackleton


Birdsong is important to male songbirds’ reproductive success. For male birds it is important to consistently reproduce their song with high stereotypy, and the effects of stress on song consistency are little studied. My current study examined the effects of social isolation and corticosterone administration on song production and migrating and apoptotic neurons in the song-control brain region HVC of zebra finches. All males significantly decreased in song stereotypy over time, independent of treatment or housing. Males who were housed in isolation had a significant decrease in their latency to sing, as well as a decrease in arborization in migratory neurons. There were no significant effects of treatment or housing on activated caspase-3 immunoreactive cells, which were used as a measure of apoptosis. In conclusion, there are different outcomes when comparing the effects of social stressors to corticosterone administration. This should be taken into consideration when designing future studies examining stress.