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Food-caching dynamics and reproductive performance of gray jays (Perisoreus canadensis)

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Title: Food-caching dynamics and reproductive performance of gray jays (Perisoreus canadensis)
Author: Sechley, Talia
Department: Department of Integrative Biology
Program: Integrative Biology
Advisor: Norris, Ryan
Abstract: The influence of climate on resource availability and the subsequent effects on reproductive performance is one of the most important processes driving the responses of populations to climate change. For food-caching species, warmer temperatures may accelerate cached food decay, leading to food limitation during the breeding season. I investigated the influence of warm temperatures on the preservation of cached food, and explored the effect of an interaction between climate and habitat quality on food availability and breeding condition of female gray jays (Perisoreus canadensis). Food cached at a high-latitude site decayed the least compared to two lower-latitude sites, and decay was exacerbated on deciduous trees compared to coniferous trees. Further, the percentage of conifers on territories positively influenced final pre-laying weights of females, which conferred a higher reproductive output. These results suggest that climate warming may accelerate cached food decay and carry-over to influence female reproductive performance via habitat quality.
Date: 2013-09

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