Document Detail

Does egg colouration reflect male condition in birds?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20309517     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
How colouration provides information about individuals in birds has been a central issue in recent decades. Although much information has been derived, little is known about the adaptive significance of egg colouration in birds. A recent idea suggests that biliverdin- and porphyrin-pigmented eggs may act as a post-mating sexual signal for males to assess female quality. In birds, it is common for males to influence prelaying female condition by courtship feeding. Using Eurasian kestrels, a species that lays protoporphyrin-pigmented eggs, we descriptively assessed the influence of male feeding on egg pigmentation by considering female phenotype, condition, breeding parameters and male body condition. We found that older females and females with greyer tails (an index of individual quality) produce highly pigmented eggs. However, male body condition was the only variable that explained egg colouration when considered together with the female-related variables. Therefore, females that mated with males in better condition laid highly pigmented eggs. With the same species, we also explored the cost of producing protoporphyrin-pigmented eggs using a food-supply experiment before the laying period. Food supplementation did not increase egg pigmentation, but hatching success and egg mass were positively related to egg colouration only in food supplied pairs. We suggest that egg colouration might be costly to produce and probably suggests egg quality. However, this cost cannot be explained by female quality, but by male condition instead. In general, our results do not support the theory that egg colouration is a post-mating sexual signal in species where males determine female condition at the time of laying.
Jesús Martínez-Padilla; Heather Dixon; Pablo Vergara; Lorenzo Pérez-Rodríguez; Juan A Fargallo
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2010-03-23
Journal Detail:
Title:  Die Naturwissenschaften     Volume:  97     ISSN:  1432-1904     ISO Abbreviation:  Naturwissenschaften     Publication Date:  2010 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-04-14     Completed Date:  2010-08-10     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0400767     Medline TA:  Naturwissenschaften     Country:  Germany    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  469-77     Citation Subset:  IM    
Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability (ACES), University of Aberdeen & The Macaulay Institute, School of Biological Sciences, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Animal Feed
Ankle / anatomy & histology
Birds / physiology*
Body Size
Crosses, Genetic
Eggs / statistics & numerical data*
Pigmentation / physiology
Sex Characteristics*
Tail / anatomy & histology
Wing / anatomy & histology

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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