Carrie L Branch

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Harsh and unpredictable environments have been assumed to favor the evolution of better learning abilities in animals. At the same time, individual variation in learning abilities might be associated with variation in other correlated traits potentially forming a behavioral syndrome. We have previously reported significant elevation-related differences in(More)
Evidence from different chickadee species (Poecile genus) indicates that birds can modify the note composition of their “chick-a-dee” calls in the presence of predator stimuli. Here, we tested the effects of predator models and the distance of those models on calls of three species foraging together at feeding stations: Carolina chickadees (Poecile(More)
Animals inhabiting challenging and harsh environments are expected to benefit from certain phenotypic traits including cognitive abilities. In particular, innovation and habituation are traits thought to benefit animals in challenging environments and increase individual’s probability of survival via increased foraging success. Here, we tested whether(More)
Song in songbirds is widely thought to function in mate choice and male-male competition. Song is also phenotypically plastic and typically learned from local adults; therefore, it varies across geographical space and can serve as a cue for an individual's location of origin, with females commonly preferring males from their respective location.(More)
The factors leading to the evolution of large brain size remain controversial. Brains are metabolically expensive and larger brains demand higher maintenance costs. The expensive-tissue hypothesis suggests that when selection favors larger brains, evolutionary changes in brain size can occur without an overall increase in energetic costs when brain size(More)
Montane habitats are characterized by predictably rapid heterogeneity along elevational gradients and are useful for investigating the consequences of environmental heterogeneity for local adaptation and population genetic structure. Food-caching mountain chickadees inhabit a continuous elevation gradient in the Sierra Nevada, and birds living at harsher,(More)
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