It is widely known that birds are sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light, and that they use UV reflecting signals in choosing mates. This led to the proposal that UV signals in birds may represent private channels of communication hidden from predators, because most mammalian predators of birds are unlikely to see UV light. This idea has held great sway with researchers and the public, sustained no doubt by human fascination with an area of communication invisible to us. However, the primary predators of songbirds are often birds of prey that can see UV light, shedding doubt on the idea that UV reflecting patterns represent “special” signals. A range of recent studies, including mate-choice experiments, models of visual processing, and comparative analyses, have claimed to provide support for and against the theory that UV signals are special. We summarize the evidence for and against this idea and conclude that, while further work is required, current evidence generally does not favor this hypothesis. We finish with suggestions for future work to settle the controversy.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 57 • No. 6