Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing; Biology

Project Advisor 1

Bruce Robertson

Abstract/Artist's Statement

An animal’s ability to make accurate decisions about foraging, habitat selection, and mating is crucial to that animal’s fitness. Urbanization, which I define as rapid and intense anthropogenic change to the planet, causes biodiversity loss, habitat loss, and environmental degradation. Urbanization and pollution can create ecological traps, which are low-quality habitats that are preferred over high-quality habitats. These traps negatively impact the dependability of historically reliable cues, which negatively affects animals’ behavior because they are tricked into choosing low-quality habitats. Polarized light has been a historically reliable cue for water and migration for many insects and possibly birds, but polarized light pollution has altered the dependability of this cue. Knowing whether birds use polarized light as a cue for water is important for determining the impact polarized light pollution could be imposing on birds. I created a modified bird feeder, with panels in the degree of light polarized, to test whether birds use polarized light as cue to detect water. I predicted that birds would land on the most polarizing panel, and I found that compared to the other panels, birds significantly landed on the most polarizing panel. While the results of this paper do not directly indicate that birds use polarized light as a cue for water, they do definitively show that birds see polarized light. These are important preliminary results that will help guide future research.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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