Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2017

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science

Committee Member(s)

Sarah Slocum, PhD, BCBA-D (Committee Chair)

Stephanie Kincaid, PhD, BCBA-D

April Michele Williams, PhD, BCBA-D

Supervising Faculty Member

Dr. Sarah Slocum


Feather plucking (FP) is a maladaptive behavior observed in captive avian species. This self-injurious behavior results in damage to and removal of feathers and skin tissue, resulting in animal welfare and financial consequences. The etiology and maintenance of FP have been hypothesized through medical and environmental processes, yet a definitive solution has not been found. The current study investigated the environmental variables maintaining the FP of a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), as well as evaluated a function-based treatment for this behavior. The behavior was found to be maintained by positive reinforcement in the form of contingent attention. Treatment consisted of noncontingent reinforcement. Results further demonstrate the validity of function-based assessment and treatment with captive animals.

Rights Holder

Kristen L Morris