Date Thesis Awarded

5-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Geology

Advisor

Rowan Lockwood

Abstract

Olfactory ratio is frequently used as a proxy for olfactory acuity in extant Aves, and because it can be reconstructed from the fossil record, it is applicable to non-avian theropods as well. Extant avian taxa show a remarkable diversity in olfactory lobe size and morphology; however, the significance of this diversity is unclear. Previous authors have correlated olfactory ratio with various ecological traits; however, all of these, except for event timing, have been shown to be non-significant once body size is accounted for. In this study, mating system, event timing, pair bond length, migratory behavior, parental care, and diet were all investigated as potential predictor variables of olfactory ratio in extant birds. Results showed that contrary to the results of previous analyses, event timing was not a significant predictor of olfactory ratio when phylogenetic non-independence was adequately controlled for. A weak correlation between diet and olfactory ratio was demonstrated, with insectivorous birds possessing relatively higher olfactory ratios. However existing paleontological data suggests that those species which may have been insectivorous likely did not possess high olfactory ratios.

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