Title

Beaks for Swords: Costa Rican Hummingbird Dominance Hierarchies

Presenter

Megan O'Brien

Abstract

Hummingbirds, some of the smallest and most beautiful birds on the planet, are also surprisingly aggressive. Their high energy requirements necessitate feeding strategies that provide them with the most nectar while expending the least energy. Each hummingbird species exhibits a different foraging strategy that varies with habitat conditions, and some will fight for their food. I observed two communities in the Costa Rican cloud forest in Monteverde, both consisting of the same seven hummingbird species. I hypothesized that, at constantly refilled nectar feeders, each hummingbird species and sex would assume the maximally aggressive foraging strategy that its physiology allowed. Through my observation of the outcome of agonistic interactions, such as fighting and display threats, I constructed dominance hierarchies for the two communities. I qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed the patterns that emerged in order to construct a picture of how tropical hummingbird communities function.

Faculty Sponsor

Tim Parker

Sponsor Department/Programs

Biology

Tracks

Animal Kingdom

Terms of Use

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Location

Science 100

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

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Apr 19th, 11:45 AM Apr 19th, 12:00 PM

Beaks for Swords: Costa Rican Hummingbird Dominance Hierarchies

Science 100

Hummingbirds, some of the smallest and most beautiful birds on the planet, are also surprisingly aggressive. Their high energy requirements necessitate feeding strategies that provide them with the most nectar while expending the least energy. Each hummingbird species exhibits a different foraging strategy that varies with habitat conditions, and some will fight for their food. I observed two communities in the Costa Rican cloud forest in Monteverde, both consisting of the same seven hummingbird species. I hypothesized that, at constantly refilled nectar feeders, each hummingbird species and sex would assume the maximally aggressive foraging strategy that its physiology allowed. Through my observation of the outcome of agonistic interactions, such as fighting and display threats, I constructed dominance hierarchies for the two communities. I qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed the patterns that emerged in order to construct a picture of how tropical hummingbird communities function.

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