Date of Award

12-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Biology

Program

Biology

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Alec Lindsay

Abstract

Bloodborne pathogens have significant and persistent impacts on avian populations worldwide, including decreased long-term survival and population size. Existing research indicates that chronic pathogen infections may have negative impacts on nesting success, such as decreased numbers of offspring, hatching probability, and fledging success. In species with multiple reproductive strategies, pathogen infections may have different impacts based on the role of the infected parent. White-throated Sparrows are a polymorphic species that mate disassortatively and display alternative reproductive strategies associated with color morph. White-striped birds are more aggressive, more promiscuous, and less parental than their tan- striped counterparts. I examined the reproductive outcomes of a population of White-throated Sparrows and investigated the factors that influenced variation in reproductive success within the population. I specifically focused on the influence of pathogen infection within the population and how infection interacts with the color morph of the infected parent. I found that bloodborne pathogen infection in white-striped, but not tan-striped, parents was associated with decreased nesting success. I also found an apparent association between pathogen infection in both parents and larger and heavier nestlings, which suggests a trade-off between prospective survival and reproductive effort.

Access Type

Open Access

Justification for Restricting Access

I request an embargo to be placed on this thesis to allow for publication of these data in a peer reviewed journal.

Available for download on Tuesday, November 10, 2026

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