Judy Gallagher



December 2020

Topic: Florida Scrub Jays

Speaker: David Sherer, USFWS

Date/Time: Dec 8,  2020 07:00 PM, PST 

Florida Scrub-Jays (FLSJ; federally threatened) are non-migratory, cooperatively breeding birds endemic to fire-maintained Florida scrub habitat. Lifetime reproductive success is highest among individuals breeding in habitat that has burned within the last 10 years. However, such habitat is scarce and competition for it as breeding space is likely intense. Although survival and fecundity decline in unburned habitats, some birds do settle there, perhaps to avoid competition with conspecifics.

David investigated how an individual’s behavioral phenotype (personality; bold-shy) and the quality of habitat in which they were raised (i.e. their natal territory) influenced exploratory behavior on a landscape consisting of habitat in various fire-history stages. His study system was a population of individually color banded FLSJs on 3,000 acres of managed land at Archbold Biological Station in Highlands County, Florida. David hypothesized that pre-breeding FLSJs on this landscape preferentially explore patches with specific fire history to reduce competition, and to potentially match explored habitat to the characteristics of their natal territory, or to their individual suite of behavioral attributes.

David measured off-territory movements of 118 yearling FLSJs engaged in pre-dispersal forays across a sampling grid during three breeding seasons (2016-2018) and compared fire history of explored vs. unexplored habitat to classify preference by each individual. These data allowed him to create and compare models of exploratory behavior underlying searching patterns during pre-breeding forays. David's results indicate significant variation in habitat preference by individual FLSJs during forays, driven primarily by natal habitat quality and the abundance of overgrown habitat on the natal territory, and to a lesser extent by a bird’s personality type.

Stream over Zoom on

December 8, 2020 at 7:00 PM

using the link below!


Meeting ID: 865 0075 9483

Passcode: 972660

Speaker Bio: David Sherer, USFWS

bio coming!

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