The size of the prominent black bib, or badge, of male House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) has been shown to be correlated with social dominance during the breeding season. Males with larger badges typically have greater fitness and have greater immunocompetence. In turn, individuals with greater immunocompetence typically have fewer bloodborne parasites (haemoparasites), while individuals with smaller badge sizes typically are immunocompromised and have greater loads of haemoparasites. As such, badge size of male House Sparrows is reasoned to be a faithful indicator of male quality for females selecting mates. To date, no studies have been conducted as to whether or not badge size is a faithful indicator of quality outside of the breeding season. My research aims to answer if the badge size of male House Sparrows is predictive of an individual’s health outside of the breeding season. To do so, I will investigate the seasonal relationship between haemoparasites and badge size in a population of House Sparrows residing in San Angelo, TX.
Seasonal variation of haemoparasites in House Sparrows
Faculty Mentor Name
Dr. Benjamin Skipper
Faculty-Mentored Undergraduate Research Grant