Effects of rearing environment on behavior of captive-reared Whooping cranes (Grus Americana)
Sadowski, Christy L.
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Whooping crane (Grus americana) numbers dropped dramatically with an all time low in the 1930s of 13 wild individuals due to settlement by the Europeans, overall habitat loss, and overhunting. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) was formed in 1999 with the main goal of establishing a migratory population of whooping cranes in eastern North America. Unfortunately, these reintroduction efforts have had little success due to poor reproduction in the wild after release. One proposed idea as to why their reproductive success is low is how they are reared in captivity: reared by humans in crane costumes versus reared by surrogate conspecific adults. From this idea, I hypothesized that rearing environment in captivity affects expressed behavior in chicks when presented novel environments. Ten-minute focal observations were conducted on chicks at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland when they were introduced to a novel environment. After data analysis, significant differences in expressed behaviors and movements were observed between rearing environments. Previous studies on newly released whooping crane chicks showed that differences between rearing environment groups while in captivity continued to be significantly different after release. This leads me to believe that there will be behavioral differences between the two groups when it comes to reproduction and parenting
Captive whooping cranes
Whooping crane habitat
Whooping crane behavior
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