Willow Dalehite ’22

Headshot of Willow Dalehite
Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Nestling Feeding Behavior and Adult Interactions in a Cooperatively Breeding Bird

Presentation Link

View Willow's Presentation

I studied nestling provisioning behavior in a population of greater anis in Panama. These birds are unique for being cooperative breeders, meaning that two or more breeding pairs lay their eggs in the same nest and jointly care for their offspring. My research aimed to help better understand the dynamics of this breeding system and the factors that might influence those dynamics. I watched nest-camera footage of adults feeding nestlings and collected data on prey allocation between nestlings, nestling begging behavior, and instances of adult conflict (when multiple adults handle a single prey item during a feeding event). I designed a project for which I investigated the factors that might lead to adult conflict, as well as the effects this behavior might have on prey allocation and provisioning rates. I learned a lot about breeding behavior in greater anis, as well as how to develop effective questions, hypotheses and data collection methods. I gained a lot of insight into academic ecological research from the great experience I had, and I hope to continue to study questions in behavioral ecology in the future.



Internship Year

2020

Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation

Organization(s)

Riehl Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University

Mentor(s)

Christina Riehl, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Amanda Savagian, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology