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Project for Research Experiences for Undergraduates

2011 Summer Program, May 31 - July 22, 2011

National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Title: How does the effort a mother bird expends on her offspring depend on the attractiveness of her mate?

Mentors: Dr. Tony Jhwueng (Mathematics/Statistics) and Dr. Tucker Gilman (Biology)

Bird photo. A large body of theory suggests that mothers should invest more energy in their offspring when those offspring carry high-value genes from attractive mates. Researchers have tested this theory in the field by asking whether female birds produce eggs with higher androgen content when those females have been exposed to more attractive males, but support for the theory has so far been mixed. In an unpublished paper, Goglio and Christian argued that studies in polygamous bird species tend to support the theoretical results, while studies in monogamous bird species do not. This project aims to complete and extend the unpublished work in order to expand both the theoretical and empirical understanding of maternal investment in offspring. The approach will be to conduct a thorough meta-analysis of the avian literature, with statistical analyses corrected to account for phylogenetic relatedness among bird species. We will go through the entire research process from planning the study to writing up the results, and hope to submit a paper for peer review at the end of the eight-week session.


Abstract of project report (PDF)

Return to REU/REV 2011.

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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