Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Natalie Wright, PhD


Within the avian clade, species drastically differ in their locomotion style, particularly the extent to which they invest in flight vs. terrestrial locomotion. This clade is equally as varied regarding their life history traits. We investigated a framework developed by Dial that explains how this investment impacts a species’ life history across five life history traits: rate of development, nest type, flight style, body size, and main foraging method. The diagonal length of the sternal keel and length of the tarsometatarsus were used to quantify the investment in forelimb and hindlimb locomotion, respectively. We measured the long bones and keels of over 2,000 individuals from museum collections, representing the majority of avian families and all major branches of the avian tree. We found the relative investment of forelimbs to hindlimbs was predicted by life history. A species’ investment in their locomotion was well predicted by their flight style and also how their length of post-hatching development. The relative-locomotive investment of a species reflects mode of locomotion, but the diversity of life history traits that exists within this clade cannot be explained by this investment alone.

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