Fluctuating asymmetry has been suggested to be a phenotypic marker of developmental stability and is often seen as an indicator of overall quality. However, its role in sexual selection has been debated. To determine the potential role of black wingtip asymmetry in sexual selection in Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), we investigated whether symmetry was correlated with reproductive success and integument coloration, a trait probably sexually selected in this species. We found that, in males, asymmetry was associated with low clutch size and brood size but was independent of fledging success, which suggests that wingtip symmetry may reflect fertility in males. Asymmetry of black wingtip was also associated with duller integument, which emphasizes the potential importance of integument color in indicating individual quality. Further studies are needed to determine whether Black-legged Kittiwakes can discriminate between asymmetric and symmetric birds and use it as a cue in mate choice or intrasexual competition.
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Vol. 130 • No. 3