Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Jeffery L. Larkin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joseph Duchamp, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Thomas Simmons, Ph.D.

Abstract

The Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) has experienced significant population declines over the past 50 years and is currently a focal species for young forest management in the eastern United States. While bird fitness has been linked to the quality and quantity of insect food supplies, research on Golden-winged Warbler foraging ecology has been limited. I evaluated shrub and tree species selection by foraging Golden-winged Warblers in northcentral Pennsylvania during the 2011 breeding season. Additionally, I compared prey (caterpillar) abundance among 13 woody plant species present within breeding territories. Golden-winged Warblers selectively foraged on black locust, pin cherry, white oak, and Rubus spp. Tree and shrub species composition differed between Golden-winged Warbler territories and adjacent, unoccupied areas of early successional habitat; findings were consistent with patterns of caterpillar abundances. Findings from this research provide land managers with insight for creating breeding habitat that considers the foraging ecology of this imperiled species.

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