Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Susan Balenger

Relational Format



Animal sickness behavior is an important component of disease ecology and is essential to understanding wildlife diseases and how and where animals allocate resources for survival. This study examines sickness behaviors, the extent of conjunctivitis, and the presence of an antibody response in relation to a Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) respiratory infection in American goldfinches. We conducted an experimental infection of American goldfinches and recorded behavior videos, and collected blood samples, throat swabs, eye swelling, and mass data at multiple time points throughout the experiment. An ELISA-serum assay was run after the conclusion of the study to identify the presence of MG-specific antibodies in each bird’s serum. Our results showed an increase in eye swelling and stationary behaviors of infected goldfinches and a decrease in mass and active behaviors during the late stage of the experiment. The ELISA assay showed only 71% (5/7) of American goldfinches seroconverted by the end of the experiment. These findings suggested that American goldfinches are affected by individual variation in generating an immune response to MG, compared to house finches, and can further our understanding of how behavioral responses relate to disease progression.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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