Lahontan Audubon Society is excited to announce another monthly membership meeting in a digital format! Sign up below, and after registering, you will receive an email confirmation with the Zoom link. We will also include instructions on how to use Zoom if you are unfamiliar.
Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Time: 7:00 PM
Featuring: Ben Sonnenberg
Topic: Wild Food-Caching Mountain Chickadees in the Sierra Nevada
Mountain Chickadees cache food or hide it away for future consumption. This behavior, and the birds' incredible ability to remember tens of thousands of cached food locations, enables them to survive in the harsh winter months of the Sierra Nevada. This dependence on food caches for winter survival makes Mountain Chickadees a perfect target to investigate spacial memory and the potential selective pressures driving the evolution of this cognitive ability. Using a unique Radio-frequency identification (RFID)-equipped feeder system, UNR's Chickadee Cognition lab is able to test spatial learning and memory in wild chickadees. Most recently, the lab has collected evidence that elevation related climactic harshness may be the selecting force behind the variation in memory in wild mountain chickadees.
Ben Sonnenberg is a 4th year PhD candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno where he conducts research in the avian cognitive ecology lab focusing on Mountain chickadees. His projects include monitoring the spatial learning and memory abilities as well as the reproductive investments of the long-term study population. Ben is a native of Bozeman, Montana and received a degree in Biology from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. He has worked around the country, including Washington, Nevada, Alaska and Connecticut, conducting avian related research and public outreach.