Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Susan Lonborg

Third Committee Member

Tonya Buchanan

Abstract

The consequences of transforming a natural environment into a human-modified environment (i.e., urbanization) on wildlife has long been a topic of concern, but has been hampered by a lack of empirical evidence focused on animal behavior. The current study was designed to explore behavioral differences between urban and rural American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) by installing baited perches in urban and rural settings in Kittitas County, Washington. In order to observe differences in urban and rural crow behavior to approach or avoidance-oriented stimuli, perches included custom cameras and audio equipment that alternated between periods of playing crow calls or Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) calls. As originally designed, this experiment hypothesized that stress behaviors such as caching, preening, vigilance, and boldness (i.e., approach/avoidance) would differ in response to environmental setting (i.e., urban, rural) and audio stimulus type (i.e., approach call, avoidance call). Unfortunately, total sample size of crows did not provide enough power to investigate dependable behavioral outcomes. When examining overall bird data, birds visited rural areas more often compared to urban areas but spent shorter periods of time on perches in rural environments. Overall, there were no observed behavioral differences in response to audio stimuli, suggesting that conspecific and heterospecific communication is more complicated than indicated in previous research.

Share

COinS