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The Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit

The University of Montana

Riccardo Ton, Ph.D. Candidate - DBS/OBE

Advisor - Tom Martin


Natural Science Building - Room 311


Riccardo off coast in Borneo


The two overarching aims of my dissertation are:  a) to test the role of temperature in causing the broad pattern of interspecific variation in development rates among ectothermic embryos; b) to explore the role of interspecific variation in metabolism of endothermic offspring, potentially resulting from the differential selective pressure of predation, in contributing to interspecific variation in growth rate.  To achieve hoses goals, I use an experimental and comparative approach among passerine species on three different continents.

Progress and Status: 

To achieve the above goals I spent three field seasons of data collection in a montane tropical forest in Borneo Malaysia and three seasons in a high altitude riparian system in Arizona.  Moreover, I have obtained funding to support one season of data collection in a third southern temperature field site in South Africa starting in September, 2014.  I experimentally heated nests of 8 species covering a gradient of embryonic growth rates ranging from 12 to 25 days of incubation.  I measured the metabolic rate of 82 embryos and 235 nestlings of these and other species.  I'm currently submitting a paper that summarizes the result for the Arizona field site.

Referred Scientific Papers:

Martin T.E., Oteyza J.C., Boyce, A.J., Lloyd O., and Ton T. (in review).  Adult and offspring mortality affect embryo development time through reproductive effort.  Ecology Letters

Crino, O.A., Driscoll, S.C., Ton, R., Breuner C.W. (Accepted).  Corticosterone exposure during development improves a foraging task in zebra finches.   Animal Behaviour.  Martin T.E., Ton, R., and Niklison, A. 2013.  Intrinsic vs. extrinsic influences on life history expression:  metabolism and parentally induced temperature influences embryo development rate.  Ecology Letters 16: 738-745.

Natural Sciences Room 205

Missoula, MT 59812