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Consistency of Behaviors and Stress Physiology in Pinyon Jays (Gymnorhinus Cyanocephalus): Consistent Individual Differences in Exploratory and Risk-taking Behaviors Are Unrelated to Differences in Cort Physiology and Sociability

Juan F Duque, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

You wake up to a sunny, bright day and decide to work at cafe. You dress accordingly in shorts and tank top, and walk to do your work. When returning home, a torrential downpour soaks you and all of your belongings, ruining essential paperwork in the process. What is true at one time, in one context may not be true at other times or contexts. Studies of animal personality explore consistent individual differences yet many studies only quantify behavior at limited times or in a few contexts. Like your ruined paperwork shows, for a claim of consistency to be made, the trait of interest must first be tested across various time delays and contexts. Among studies of animal personality, relatively little is known regarding individual consistency among corvids. In Chapter 1, I test various ecologically-relevant behaviors in pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus Cyanocephalus) across both short and long time delays, and in a nonsocial and social context. Results indicate that these jays are considerably consistent in their behavior, and highlight the importance of validating behavioral consistency by testing at multiple timepoints and in multiple contexts. Stress physiology impacts behavior across many contexts, including during stressful and non-stressful periods, and thus differences in stress physiology could underlie behavioral differences. In Chapter 2, I investigate whether the same individuals also show consistent differences in stress physiology, namely in how corticosterone (CORT) changes in response to two different stressors. Results indicate that these jays also exhibit consistent differences in their CORT response to stress, raising the possibility that individual differences in behavior may, in part, be driven by differences in stress physiology. In Chapter 3, I explore whether the previously identified behavioral and CORT differences covary, then test whether these data are predictive of sociability. Pinyon jays are highly social, relying on their social group in many contexts, such as foraging and nest defense. Despite consistency in each, results indicate little covariation between stress and behavior, and neither was predictive of sociability. Together, the thesis provides a comprehensive view of how to explore behavioral and physiological differences and their relation to other traits of interest.

Subject Area

Psychology|Physiological psychology|Experimental psychology

Recommended Citation

Duque, Juan F, "Consistency of Behaviors and Stress Physiology in Pinyon Jays (Gymnorhinus Cyanocephalus): Consistent Individual Differences in Exploratory and Risk-taking Behaviors Are Unrelated to Differences in Cort Physiology and Sociability" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI27666519.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI27666519

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