Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Ghislaine Mayer


Yellow avian plumage is a direct result of carotenoid pigments obtained in a bird’s diet and may act as an indicator for individual health, parasite resistance, and status. This study describes breast feather reflectance of adult Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) (n=169), insectivorous Neotropical migrant passerines, throughout the Ultraviolet (UV) and human visible light spectra and examines the relationship between Haemosporidia (pathogen causing Avian Malaria) infection and feather reflectance (n=41). Reflectance was characterized using a Principle Component Analysis evaluating Intensity, Brightness, Hue, UV Intensity, UV Brightness, and UV Chroma. UV and visible light reflectance was higher in birds sampled earlier in the field season (early clutch) (p=0.0017 and p=0.0743 respectively). There was no relationship between infection and either visible light or hue. However, UV reflectance was lower in infected birds (p=0.0843). This study suggests that UV reflectance is an important indicator for the infection status of a Neotropical migrant passerine.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2009

Included in

Biology Commons