Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School



Foraging success can limit fitness if resources are unpredictable and strongly favor those that learn socially. Unpredictability can be a stressor and trigger elevations of stress hormones, that coordinate whole body responses to challenging environmental conditions. We explored the effects of unpredictable food on behavior, physiology, and receptiveness to social information using an observer/demonstrator paradigm in red crossbills, a highly social species that are adapted to cope with high degrees of resource unpredictability. Unpredictable food limited food intake (X21 = 10, p = 0.0012), caused a decline in body condition (X21 = 5.9, p = 0.015), and triggered an increase in activity ( pX21 = 2.91, p = 0.09), which suggests recalling learned behaviors is more important to the foraging success of an irruptive crossbills than learning new behaviors.

Included in

Biology Commons