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VOLUME 13 TEACHING ISSUES AND EXPERIMENTS IN ECOLOGY
PRACTICE

The nose knows: How tri-trophic interactions and natural history shape bird foraging behavior

King penguin (Photo by Greg Cunningham)

AUTHOR

Kaitlin M. Bonner and Gregory B. Cunningham

Department of Biology, St. John Fisher College, 3690 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618

Corresponding author: Kaitlin M. Bonner (kbonner@sjfc.edu)


THE ECOLOGICAL QUESTION

Do two species of ocean-foraging birds detect and respond to a chemical cue which is linked to their food source, and how might differences in their natural history help to explain any variation in sensitivity?

ECOLOGICAL CONTENT

Foraging, trophic cascades, chemical ecology, behavioral ecology, Antarctic food webs

WHAT STUDENTS DO

This dataset is designed for first-year biology students, but can be altered for upper-level students. After receiving sufficient background on the biology of King penguins, students must make hypotheses regarding the penguins’ sensitivity to an odor known to be associated with the primary productivity of the ocean. Students are given multiple data sets and need to analyze the data using a variety of statistical tests. Students work in pairs to examine and analyze the data, and then as a group generate conclusions to develop the larger picture. To give students a chance to apply their knowledge beyond penguins, a second dataset with other seabirds is introduced. Here students must contrast the results of seabirds to this odor against the responses of King penguins. For successful completion of the assignment, students must recognize how differences in the natural history between the two groups of birds might impact their sensitivities towards the odor.

SKILLS

Hypothesis creation, statistical analyses, graph creation, graph interpretation, phylogenetic tree interpretation, manipulating datasets and formulas in MSExcel, MSPowerpoint slide creation, synthesizing knowledge, drawing conclusions

STUDENT-ACTIVE APPROACHES

Guided inquiry, cooperative learning, jigsaw, critical thinking

ASSESSABLE OUTCOMES

Hypotheses creation, statistical results using MSExcel, figure creation using MSExcel, slides produced using MSPowerpoint, answers to questions

SOURCE

Bonadonna, F., S. Caro, P. Jouventin, and G.A. Nevitt. 2006. Evidence that blue petrel, Halobaena caerulea, fledglings can detect and orient to dimethyl sulfide. Journal of Experimental Biology 209:2165-2169.

Cunningham, G.B., S. Leclaire, C. Toscani, and F. Bonadonna. 2017. Responses of king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus adults and chicks to two food-related odours. Journal of Avian Biology 48:235-242.

DOWNLOADS

Description of Resource Files:

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank Dr. Francesco Bonadonna for allowing us to use the data for the Blue petrels and Travis Godkin for reviewing this manuscript. KMB would also like to thank the QUBES/ESA DIG Into Data Faculty Mentoring Network facilitators and participants for advice, support, and valuable feedback.

CITATION

Kaitlin M. Bonner and Gregory B. Cunningham. March 2018, posting date. The nose knows: How tri-trophic interactions and natural history shape bird foraging behavior. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 13: Practice #8 [online]. http://tiee.esa.org/vol/v13/issues/data_sets/bonner/abstract.html