Conspicuous, ultraviolet-rich mouth colours in begging chicks

Hunt, Sarah, Kilner, Rebecca M., Langmore, Naomi E. and Bennett, Andrew T. D. 2003, Conspicuous, ultraviolet-rich mouth colours in begging chicks, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London series B-biological sciences, vol. 270, no. Supplement 1 : Biology Letters, pp. S25-S28.


Title Conspicuous, ultraviolet-rich mouth colours in begging chicks
Author(s) Hunt, Sarah
Kilner, Rebecca M.
Langmore, Naomi E.
Bennett, Andrew T. D.
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society of London series B-biological sciences
Volume number 270
Issue number Supplement 1 : Biology Letters
Start page S25
End page S28
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2003-08-07
ISSN 0962-8452
1471-2954
Keyword(s) begging
ultraviolet
conspicuous
mouth colour
Summary There is as yet no clear consensus on the function of vivid mouth colours in begging chicks. A major obstacle to our understanding has been that no studies have measured gape colours independently of human colour perception. Here, we present the first study, to our knowledge, to use UV-VIS spectrometry to quantify the gape colour, background nest colour and nest light environment of eight European passerines. Both mouths and the surrounding flanges show striking and previously unreported peaks of reflectance in the ultraviolet, coupled with high long-wavelength reflectance responsible for the human-visible appearance of the gape. High ultraviolet reflectance is likely to have an important effect on the conspicuousness of nestling mouths, since contrast with the nest background is maximal in the ultraviolet. Furthermore, the dual-peak nature of the spectra suggests that gapes are avian non-spectral colours analogous to human purple.
Language eng
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C4.1 Letter or note
Copyright notice ©2003, The Royal Society
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30022778

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