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1 July 2013 Wing Whiteness as an Indicator of Age, Immunocompetence, and Testis Size in the Eurasian Black-Billed Magpie (Pica pica)
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Abstract

Determining how phenotypic traits covary within individuals can offer information on the underlying functional interactions of complex phenotypes and the mechanisms that promote them. We investigated covariation of the white wing patch of the Eurasian Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) with age, sex, feather wear, spleen size, parasite infection, and testis size to evaluate whether this trait is indicative of individual quality. The white wing area was larger in adults than in second-year individuals, in males and females with larger spleens and lower helminth parasite burdens, and in males with larger testes. In addition, feather wear scores were positively correlated with black melanized areas at the tips of feathers. Our results suggest that wing whiteness reflects age, immune capacity, and feather quality in both sexes and reproductive potential in males. Therefore, this character may play a role in sexual selection by signaling individual quality.

© 2013 by The American Ornithologists' Union. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintInfo.asp.
Guillermo Blanco and Juan A. Fargallo "Wing Whiteness as an Indicator of Age, Immunocompetence, and Testis Size in the Eurasian Black-Billed Magpie (Pica pica)," The Auk 130(3), 399-407, (1 July 2013). https://doi.org/10.1525/auk.2013.12201
Received: 26 October 2012; Accepted: 1 April 2013; Published: 1 July 2013
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