Translator Disclaimer
1 May 2006 EVOLUTIONARY SIGNIFICANCE OF GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION IN A PLUMAGE-BASED FORAGING ADAPTATION: AN EXPERIMENTAL TEST IN THE SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (MYIOBORUS MINIATUS)
Ronald L. Mumme, Mark L. Galatowitsch, Piotr G. JabŁoński, Tadeusz M. Stawarczyk, Jakub P. Cygan
Author Affiliations +
Abstract

Geographic variation in the plumage pattern of birds is widespread but poorly understood, and in very few cases has its evolutionary significance been investigated experimentally. Neotropical warblers of the genus Myioborus use their contrasting black-and-white plumage to flush insect prey during animated foraging displays. Although previous experimental work has demonstrated that white plumage patches are critical to flush-pursuit foraging success, the amount of white in the plumage shows considerable interspecific and intraspecific geographic variation. We investigated the evolutionary significance of this geographic variation by experimentally decreasing or increasing the amount of white in the tail of slate-throated redstarts (Myioborus miniatus comptus) from Monteverde, Costa Rica, to mimic the natural extremes of tail pattern variation in this species. In addition to measuring the effects of plumage manipulation on foraging performance, we performed field experiments measuring the escape response of a common insect prey species (an asilid fly) using model redstarts representing four different Myioborus plumage patterns. Our experiments were designed to test four hypotheses that could explain geographic variation in plumage pattern. Compared to controls, experimental birds with reduced-white tails that mimic the plumage pattern of M. miniatus hellmayri of Guatemala showed significant reductions in flush-pursuit foraging performance. In contrast, the addition of white to the tail to mimic the plumage pattern of M. miniatus verticalis of Bolivia had no significant effect on foraging performance of Costa Rican redstarts. In field experiments with asilid flies, model redstarts simulating the plumage of M. miniatus comptus of Costa Rica and M. miniatus verticalis of Bolivia elicited greater responses than did models of other Myioborus taxa with either less or more white in the plumage. The results of our experiments with both birds and insects allow us to reject two hypotheses for geographic variation in plumage pattern: (1) that geographic variation is a nonadaptive result of genetic drift, and (2) that selection for enhanced flush-pursuit foraging performance generally favors increased white in the plumage, but evolutionary trade-offs constrain the evolution of extensive patches of white in some geographic regions. Instead, our results suggest that geographic variation in the plumage pattern of Myioborus redstarts reflects adaptation to regional habitat characteristics that enhances flush-pursuit foraging performance.

Ronald L. Mumme, Mark L. Galatowitsch, Piotr G. JabŁoński, Tadeusz M. Stawarczyk, and Jakub P. Cygan "EVOLUTIONARY SIGNIFICANCE OF GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION IN A PLUMAGE-BASED FORAGING ADAPTATION: AN EXPERIMENTAL TEST IN THE SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (MYIOBORUS MINIATUS)," Evolution 60(5), 1086-1097, (1 May 2006). https://doi.org/10.1554/06-015.1
Received: 12 January 2006; Accepted: 6 March 2006; Published: 1 May 2006
JOURNAL ARTICLE
12 PAGES

This article is only available to subscribers.
It is not available for individual sale.
+ SAVE TO MY LIBRARY

Share
SHARE
KEYWORDS
Adaptation
Asilidae
flush-pursuit foraging
foraging performance
geographic variation
Myioborus
plumage pattern
ARTICLE IMPACT
RIGHTS & PERMISSIONS
Get copyright permission
Back to Top