Investigating the morphology and functional properties of Sylviidae nests

Dickinson, Amy (2018) Investigating the morphology and functional properties of Sylviidae nests. MRes thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Investigating the morphology and functional properties of Sylviidae nests
Thesis
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Item Type:Thesis (MRes)
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Abstract

Investigating the functional properties of bird nests has received an increased
interest in recent years. Despite this, quantitative data for nest composition is scarce
for many species and relatively little is known about functional aspects of nest
construction across species. This thesis provides additional quantitative data for
nest composition and investigates the thermal and hydrological properties of nests
from three closely related species from the Sylviidae family; Eurasian Blackcaps
Sylvia atricapilla, Eurasian Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus and Willow
Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus. Willow Warblers built nests with the greatest mass
whereas Blackcap nests were the smallest in mass of the three species. Principal
component analysis revealed that there was interspecific variation in the
composition of warbler nests. Willow Warbler nests were characterised by a larger
quantity of moss and feathers than in Reed Warbler and Blackcap nests, with an
absence of invertebrate silk and artificial materials. Reed Warbler nests were
primarily composed of dry grasses, invertebrate silk and artificial materials.
Blackcap nests were constructed with roots and grasses, artificial materials and
invertebrate silk. Internal cooling rates were greatest for Blackcap nests under still
and moving air conditions in comparison to Reed Warbler and Willow Warbler nests.
Internal cooling rates in moving air were the smallest for Reed Warbler nests.
Heavier nests with thicker nest floors were better insulating than smaller nests under
still air conditions. Warbler nests were able to reduce the effect of air movement on
temperature loggers despite the increasing internal cooling rate, suggesting that
presence of a nest is beneficial during periods of air movement. Nests with greater
grass mass were better at reducing the effect of air movement on the internal
microclimate of warbler nests. The effect of test location on the output for thermal
data by temperature loggers placed in warbler nests was also investigated by
comparing the thermal measures recorded in an open laboratory and an enclosed
test chamber. Test location had a significant effect on thermal measurements
recorded for nests. Species had a significant effect on the hydrological properties of
warbler nests. Willow Warbler nests had the longest drying times and greater water
absorption of the three species. Nest materials did not influence the hydrological
properties of warbler nests. This thesis provides further quantified data for the
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composition of nest materials and builds on the evidence for the relationship
between avian nest construction and function.

Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:37642
Deposited On:04 Oct 2019 14:31

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