Undergraduate Research


Comparing the behavior of wildlife populations residing in different habitats can give insight into external factors that influence behavior and explain why certain behaviors are exhibited by a species. In this study, we compared the average activity budgets of Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) residing around inland and coastal habitats. We hypothesized that gulls in inland settings would be more likely to exhibit inactive behaviors such as loafing and sleeping, while gulls in coastal settings would exhibit more active behaviors such as foraging, walking, and squabbling. We observed a total of 100 individual gulls throughout the state of Maine, with 50 found inland and 50 on the coast. Behaviors exhibited by individuals were recorded in fifteen-second intervals throughout the span of five-minutes, which were then averaged for each population to generate average time budgets for inland and coastal gulls. Statistical analysis revealed that time spent performing loafing, sleeping, walking, and foraging behaviors were statistically different between the two populations while time spent performing self-maintenance, scouting, and anxious behaviors were not statistically different. We found that coastal gulls spent more time foraging, while inland gulls spent more time exhibiting loafing behaviors. Our results support the hypothesis that inland gulls perform inactive behaviors at a higher rate than coastal gulls, and conversely coastal gulls perform active behaviors at a higher rate than inland gulls.



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