Fulk, Taylor Paige

I have lived in Boone for 6 years and completed my undergraduate at Appalachian State in 2017 with a B.S. in Biology. Yearning for more knowledge, I sought out a field technician job with Dr. Lynn Siefferman where I became fascinated with the topic of animal behavior. This interest led me to join the Siefferman lab as a Master's Student to study the impacts of anthropogenic noise on the reproductive success of a common passerine, tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). Because anthropogenic noise is increasing in intensity, duration and extent, it is crucial to understand the implications this has for the conservation and biodiversity of wild organisms. In birds, communication between parents and their offspring is often disrupted or masked due to anthropogenic noise and can alter the structure of nestling begging calls, decreases their ability to detect parental arrival and decreases the parental response to begging. However, within populations, animals that exhibit bold personalities appear better able to deal with human disturbance and may be able to thrive in highly developed environments. To test this, I presented a set number of nests with traffic noise broadcasted from a portable speaker and USB player when nestlings were 4-10 days old. To measure parental personality, I staged a mock-predator stimulation with a fake crow above the nest boxes to elicit a nest-defense response when nestlings were 10 days old (Betini and Norris 2012). To gain insight on how noise impacts nestling physiology, I collected blood samples from each nestling in the summer of 2018 and quantified both corticosterone and oxidative stress levels when nestlings were 14 days old. Thus far, my results demonstrate an interaction between parental personality and treatment on nestling growth where treatment nestlings grew slower than control nestlings. Once my physiological assays are complete, it will bring forth a more sensitive measure of nestling conditions (corticosterone and oxidative stress) and how they respond to treatment and parental personality.


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