The Effects of Cryptic Versus Non-Cryptic Eggs on Predation Rate of Ground-Nesting Birds

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The Effects of Cryptic versus Non-cryptic Eggs on Predation Rate of Ground-nesting Birds

BSC2011L Title
Determining the effect of cryptic, brown eggs versus non-cryptic, white eggs on the predation rate of ground-nesting bird species. Abstract
Various interactions occur between organisms. Predation is a crucial interaction in which one species benefits by consuming another. I conducted this experiment to determine if crypsis affected the predation rate of eggs in ground-nesting birds. I hypothesized that cryptic eggs would reduce predation rate, therefore less cryptic eggs should be found. I created a simulation in which eight students randomly “laid” 96 eggs in a predetermined area, and seven predators hunted eight eggs each. The predators did not see the eggs being laid, and were given an egg quota so that all the eggs were not found. Also, they were directed to pick up the first eight eggs they noticed and not look for a particular kind. Half the eggs were white marshmallows representing the non-cryptic eggs, and the other 48 were the cryptic, cocoa covered marshmallows. The resulting values of eggs found were 37 non-cryptic and 18 non-cryptic. However, the expected amount for each type of egg was the total number of eggs to be found divided by two, or 27.5 eggs. I used a Chi-Square test to analyze my results further and found the observed chi-square value, which was 7.453. The p-value was between 0.01 and 0.005. The p-value supported my hypothesis, and with an alpha level of 0.05, I concluded that there was a significant difference between the number of cryptic and non-cryptic eggs found. Then I deduced that this difference was probably because the cryptic eggs were less noticeable to the predators, decreasing the predation rate of them. My results concurred with past experiments and promoted the notion that cryptic eggs may reduce predation rate among ground-nesting birds. Introduction

Species of organisms can be associated due to biotic or abiotic factors, or a combination of the two. A species’ environmental niche is their habitat, or physical environment, and it also includes the interactions they participate in with other species (Vliet, 1993). In other words, all of the total biotic and abiotic resources that an organism uses in their environment represent their niche (Campbell and Reece, 2005). There are numerous types of interactions among species such as neutralism, amensalism, commensalisms, and mutualism (Vliet, 1993). However, three of the most prevalent interactions are competition, parasitism, and predation (Vliet, 1993). Predation occurs when one species benefits while another suffers because the first species kills and consumes the second species (Vliet, 1993). In this lab, I used mock predators and fake bird eggs to study the effect of crypsis on the interaction between birds and their predators. I replicated the predation of ground-nesting birds’ eggs (Vliet, 1993). This topic is relevant because predation is often a leading cause of nest failure in birds; there is a strong force compelling species to adapt ways that reduce nest predation (Vliet, 1993). Predators profoundly impact the population of their prey, birds in this case (Vliet, 1993). The population growth rate of birds, or other species, can greatly decrease or the organism may not be able to persevere when the predator population is high (Vliet, 1993). For example, small rodents may significantly influence shorebirds’ reproductive success (Dobkin et al). Over an observed three year period, between six and 34 percent of Spotted Sandpiper eggs did not hatch because of damage cause by mice (Dobkin et al). Most commonly, damage to an egg occurred overnight in the way of two piercings the approximate width of mouse incisors, and subsequently, the parent disposed of the egg (Dobkin et al). The mice (predators) gravely affected the hatching rate of these shorebirds. Prey must adapt or evolve in response to their predators to counter regulate...
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