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Impact of Cowbird Brood Parasitism on an Avian Community

This data set can be used to determine the effect cowbird brood parasitism has on a songbird population. It includes notes for students as well as instructions for faculty.
Associated files
Resource Group TIEE
Resource Group Link
Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords species diversity, community, diversity, biodiversity, brood parasitism, endangered species, management, songbird
Key taxa cowbird
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description This data set could be used in discussions of community ecology (species diversity), species interactions (brood parasitism), and management of an endangered bird species (the Kirtland's Warbler). It would also be a nice comparison with other removal studies showing great effects on community composition - e.g. Paine's starfish removals.

This is a fairly straightforward data set concerning possible effects of brown-headed cowbirds on songbird species diversity. Brood parasitism is a captivating phenomenon, and the idea that cowbirds negatively impact their hosts is a "truth" for most students who are familiar with cowbirds. Another attractive aspect of the study is that De Groot and Smith test this idea in two ways - 1) by comparing songbird composition for birds that accept cowbirds with community composition of birds that do not accept the parasites and 2) by comparing bird composition in sites with and without cowbirds.

Their hypothesis that songbird richness and evenness would be higher in cowbird removal sites was not supported. In addition, the proportion of suitable cowbird hosts did not decrease much in the cowbird removal locations. This is a good opportunity for students to see that even hypotheses that seem so likely must sometimes be rejected. In addition, this recent paper (2001) is the first on effects of a brood parasite on community composition, which will also surprise students.
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Charlene D'Avanzo
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation School of Natural Sciences, Hampshire College
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • educationintern
Rights 2004 - Charlene D'Avanzo, and the Ecological Society of America
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2004-02-22
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2010-02-16 01:37:45
Last Modified By Id
  • educationintern
Date Last Modified 2018-07-18 11:03:44
Release Flag Published

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