Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Elizabeth P. Derryberry

Committee Members

Elizabeth Derryberry, Kimberly Sheldon, Todd Freeberg, Xingli Giam, Ray Danner


Due to climate change, animals around the globe are experiencing the negative impacts of hot temperature extremes. Hot temperatures can affect animals is by inducing behavioral changes. Some of these behavioral changes include reductions in important, fitness-related behaviors such as foraging and mating. One aspect of mating behaviors that high temperatures can impact is communication. In many systems, mating communication consists of a male signaler transmitting a signal to a female receiver, who then uses the signal to assess the male’s quality as a potential mate. High temperatures can impact this process at the level of the signaler, the receiver, and the signal itself. In my dissertation, I focus on the effects of high temperatures on mating behaviors in songbirds. Songbirds are a fitting organism in which to test the effects of high temperatures because they have a well-studied communication system, are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures, and are already experiencing population declines due to climate change. In Chapter 1, I assess the impacts of high temperatures on the quantity and quality of signals produced by male signalers. In chapter 2, I assess the effects of high temperatures on the discriminatory ability of female receivers. In Chapter 3, I assess the effects of high temperatures on the salience of the signal itself. I discuss my results in the contexts of research practices and population persistence in the face of rising temperatures.

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