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1 January 2003 EFFECTS OF COMMON ORIGIN AND COMMON ENVIRONMENT ON NESTLING PLUMAGE COLORATION IN THE GREAT TIT (PARUS MAJOR)
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Abstract

Carotenoids cannot be synthesized by birds and thus have to be ingested with food, suggesting that carotenoid-based plumage coloration is environmentally determined. However signaling functions ascribed to plumage imply that plumage coloration is the outcome of an evolutionary process based on genetic variation. By means of a cross-fostering design we show significant effects of both a common rearing environment and the brood from which a nestling originally came from (common origin) on the plumage coloration of nestling great tits (Parus major). This demonstration of origin-related variation in carotenoid-based plumage coloration suggests that the observed variation of the trait has a partial genetic basis. Consistent with environmental determination of this trait, we also found a significant positive correlation between the color saturation of nestlings and their foster-father's plumage. There was no significant correlation between nestling plumage coloration and the food quantity provided to the nestlings by the male, the female, or both parents. This suggests that the nestling-foster father correlation arises by the carotenoid quantity ingested rather than the food quantity per se. No significant nestling-true father correlation was found, which suggests that nestling plumage coloration did not indirectly evolve due to sexual selection. Consistent with this result there was no significant correlation between the nestling's plumage color and its coloration as a breeding adult the following year, suggesting that nestling plumage color is a different trait than the first year plumage.

Patrick S. Fitze, Mathias Kölliker, and Heinz Richner "EFFECTS OF COMMON ORIGIN AND COMMON ENVIRONMENT ON NESTLING PLUMAGE COLORATION IN THE GREAT TIT (PARUS MAJOR)," Evolution 57(1), 144-150, (1 January 2003). https://doi.org/10.1554/0014-3820(2003)057[0144:EOCOAC]2.0.CO;2
Received: 2 February 2002; Accepted: 10 September 2002; Published: 1 January 2003
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