Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Timothy Nuttle, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Larkin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Joseph Duchamp, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Ellen Yerger, Ph.D.

Abstract

In this study birds were excluded from branches of six dominant tree species of the Allegheny National Forest. Larval Lepidoptera (caterpillars) and Symphyta (sawflies) collected from exposed and protected branches indicate that pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) and black cherry (P. serotina) act as important sources of larvae for birds throughout the breeding season, whereas American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) act as potentially important sources during the post-fledging period. The removal of larvae by birds is dependent on the available biomass on a host tree, though differences in the response of birds to available biomass on tree species during June indicate foraging preferences for tree species beyond available biomass. Overall, the exclusion of avian predators from temperate forest trees shows that plant quality scales up in value to the third trophic level as trees with higher larval biomass are increasingly used as a food source for birds.

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