Project Title

Live fast, die young: Examining pace-of-life syndrome in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) across an urbanization gradient

Presenters

Rachel KaplanFollow

Academic department under which the project should be listed

CSM - Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dr. Sarah Guindre-Parker

Disciplines

Animal Experimentation and Research | Behavior and Ethology | Endocrinology | Ornithology | Population Biology

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Our planet is becoming increasingly urban, which has significant implications for the future success of avian populations worldwide. The pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) hypothesis seeks to explain differences in physiological, behavioral, and life-history traits among wildlife populations whereby urban individuals rely on a slower pace of life strategy compared to rural individuals. Thus, rural birds are often hypothesized to live fast and die young compared to their city-living counterparts. A slow pace of life is thought to be associated with a number of phenotypes including long adult lifespan, reduced investment in reproduction, thorough exploratory behavior, greater stress reactivity, and greater investment in immune defenses. Since the introduction of this hypothesis, a growing number of traits believed to have evolved in concert as a function of habitat constraints have been added to the body of POLS research. Under the assumptions of POLS, coevolution of these many traits should be shaped by similar environmental cues, resulting in a predominantly fast or slow life-history strategy under different environments. This proposed research project will require quantification of multiple physiological, behavioral, and life-history phenotypes in different populations of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), an invasive songbird species found along an urban-to-rural gradient, to better understand the relationship between POLS and urbanization. The study will aim to address three main hypotheses: (1) urban starlings will display a slower pace of life than their rural conspecifics, (2) suites of behavioral, physiological, and life-history traits will covary across an urban-to-rural gradient, and (3) correlations between related traits will be stronger/more significant in urban starlings.

Project Type

Poster

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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Live fast, die young: Examining pace-of-life syndrome in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) across an urbanization gradient

Our planet is becoming increasingly urban, which has significant implications for the future success of avian populations worldwide. The pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) hypothesis seeks to explain differences in physiological, behavioral, and life-history traits among wildlife populations whereby urban individuals rely on a slower pace of life strategy compared to rural individuals. Thus, rural birds are often hypothesized to live fast and die young compared to their city-living counterparts. A slow pace of life is thought to be associated with a number of phenotypes including long adult lifespan, reduced investment in reproduction, thorough exploratory behavior, greater stress reactivity, and greater investment in immune defenses. Since the introduction of this hypothesis, a growing number of traits believed to have evolved in concert as a function of habitat constraints have been added to the body of POLS research. Under the assumptions of POLS, coevolution of these many traits should be shaped by similar environmental cues, resulting in a predominantly fast or slow life-history strategy under different environments. This proposed research project will require quantification of multiple physiological, behavioral, and life-history phenotypes in different populations of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), an invasive songbird species found along an urban-to-rural gradient, to better understand the relationship between POLS and urbanization. The study will aim to address three main hypotheses: (1) urban starlings will display a slower pace of life than their rural conspecifics, (2) suites of behavioral, physiological, and life-history traits will covary across an urban-to-rural gradient, and (3) correlations between related traits will be stronger/more significant in urban starlings.

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