Katie Robertson Graduate Exit Seminar
Katie will present Boldness Behavior and Chronic Stress in Free-Ranging, Urban Coyotes at 11 A.M. in Kottman 370 on November 14, 2018.
Wildlife have responded to urbanization in a variety of ways. While some species are displaced, others have learned to tolerate and even thrive in anthropogenic landscapes. Even within a single species, there are inter-individual variations in behavior that may contribute to successes or failures in some environments. Such variations are often attributed to the presence of behavioral syndromes (i.e., suites of correlated behaviors in response to a common stimuli). Behavioral syndromes imply that, while a population may contain individuals that exhibit different behaviors, each individual has a limited amount of behavioral plasticity. The environment may influence which behavioral tendencies tend to dominate in a given population. Bold individuals are typically more proactive, more exploratory, and less sensitive to stressors. Since urban areas are prone to high levels of disturbance, have high human densities, and contain many novel items, urban areas may favor bolder individuals. Bolder individuals would likely cope with disturbance better and more easily locate and use novel resources (e.g., anthropogenic food) to their benefit. To test the idea that cities may be driving wildlife populations to become bolder on average, we ran behavioral tests (i.e., flight initiation distance tests and novel object tests) on free-ranging coyotes in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area. Additionally, hair cortisol concentrations were measured for the study coyotes, as stress has been previously documented to influence behavior in some species.