Chickadee behavioural response to varying threat levels of heterospecific and conspecific calls

  • Author / Creator
    Congdon, Jenna V.
  • Chickadees produce many vocalizations, including the chick-a-dee call that they use as a mobbing call in the presence of predators. Previous research has shown that chickadees produce more D notes in their mobbing calls in response to high-threat predators compared to low-threat predators, and may perceive predator and corresponding mobbing vocalizations as similar. I presented black-capped chickadees with playback of high- and low-threat predator calls and conspecific mobbing calls to examine vocal and movement behaviours. Chickadees produced more chick-a-dee calls in response to playback of a high-threat predator than a low-threat predator, and to reversed high-threat mobbing calls than the original high-threat mobbing calls. Chickadees also vocalized more in response to mobbing calls compared to baseline, regardless of threat level. Chickadees did not produce significantly more D notes in response to high-threat mobbing calls compared to low-threat mobbing calls, but D note production showed some similarities to previous findings. The difference in chickadees production of tseets across playback approached significance as chickadees increased calling in response to conspecific mobbing calls. Perch hops decreased in response to conspecific-produced vocalizations, but increased in response to heterospecific-produced vocalizations. Non-perch hop movement behaviour, including food and water visits, decreased across the playback of almost all conditions, regardless of threat or producer. These results suggest that chickadees may produce mobbing calls more in response to high-threat predator vocalizations as an attempt to initiate mobbing with conspecifics, while they produce less mobbing calls in response to a low-threat predator that a chickadee could easily outmaneuver, and chickadees may increase perch hopping in response to predator playback in preparation for a “fight or flight” situation.

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  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Spetch, Marcia (Psychology)
    • Paszkowski, Cynthia (Biological Sciences)
    • Hurd, Peter (Psychology)