Costs associated with the production of epigamic characters might make them honest indicators of a male's fitness. The Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis suggests epigamic characters might be indicators of a male's heritable resistance to parasites, predicting a negative correlation between parasite abundance and the elaboration of epigamic characters. Principal component analysis (PCA) of the epigamic characters of 35 male wild turkeys from a zone of Rio Grande (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) and Eastern (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) subspecies hybridization revealed variation in characters that covaried with body size (beard length and spur size) and characters that varied independent of body size (snood length and skullcap width), which have the potential for indicating heritable resistance. None of the PCA axes was correlated with mean enteric helminth abundances, suggesting that helminth parasites are not affecting the vigor of male wild turkeys in southeastern Kansas, U.S.A., and apparently, have not exerted selective pressure in the recent past to advertise resistance.
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