2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Parental Behavior of California Condors in Wild and Captive Populations

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Student Presentation

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California Condors are among one of the most endangered species on earth. Their population was down to 22 wild individuals in the 1980’s due largely to lead poisoning from feeding on carcasses embedded with spent ammunition. Through legislation banning lead ammunition in California along with captive breeding programs, the population is currently up to about 500 individuals, with over 300 in the wild. The Peregrine Fund’s condor captive breeding program is one of the largest of its kind, spearheading the effort. The captive condors at The Peregrine Fund are monitored via cameras 24/7 with staff recording behaviors. In this study courtship behavior of captive breeding pairs was analyzed for frequency of mating displays and copulations and compared to the amount of time the pair has been bonded. This behavior was also compared to data from other captive breeding facilities to determine any differences. We also looked at chick developmental benchmarks for differences in timing between males and females, and differences between nestlings reared by a pair or an unpaired adult. This study can help managers predict parental and developmental condor behavior to help with management decisions and be able to detect anomalies in parents and chicks.

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