Early Food Restriction and Phenotypic Development in Captive American Kestrels (Faldo Sparverius)

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Biology



Major Advisor

Alfred M. Dufty, Jr.


Measures of individual quality are essential to the study of proximate and ultimate factors that affect fitness. Mounting evidence suggests that conditions experienced during early development -- defined as the period between conception and developmental matunty (Henry and Ulijaszek 1996) ̶ can influence a variety of phenotypic traits in both young and adult organisms (Lindstrom 1999, Festa-Bianchet et a1. 2000). For instance, food deprivation, a likely form of environmental stress, has been linked to changes in adrenocortical responsiveness (Heath and Dufty 1998, Kitaysky et al 2001, Kitaysky et al. 2005), feather quality (Negro et a1. 1994, McGraw et a1. 2002), irnrnunoresponsiveness (Lochmiller et a1. 1993, Alonso-Alvarez and Tella 2001), compensatory growth patterns (Metcalfe and Monaghan 2001, Lindstrom et a1. 2005), sexual ornamentation (Ohlsson et a1. 2002), and a variety of morphological measurements 'including body mass (Negro et a1. 1994, Alonso-Alvarez and Tella 2001, Searcy et al, 2004). What is surprising, however, is that despite; the prevalence of studies investigating the short-term effects of early conditions on the quality of individuals, there is very little direct support for the idea that early developmental conditions affect mate choice, and by extension, fitness.

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