Male fairy-wrens produce and maintain vibrant breeding colors irrespective of individual quality

McQueen, Alexandra, Delhey, K, Barzan, FR, Naimo, AC and Peters, A 2021, Male fairy-wrens produce and maintain vibrant breeding colors irrespective of individual quality, Behavioral Ecology, vol. 32, no. 1, January-February, pp. 178-187, doi: 10.1093/beheco/araa128.

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Title Male fairy-wrens produce and maintain vibrant breeding colors irrespective of individual quality
Author(s) McQueen, AlexandraORCID iD for McQueen, Alexandra
Delhey, K
Barzan, FR
Naimo, AC
Peters, A
Journal name Behavioral Ecology
Volume number 32
Issue number 1
Season January-February
Start page 178
End page 187
Total pages 10
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford, Eng.
Publication date 2021-01
ISSN 1045-2249
Keyword(s) Behavioral Sciences
condition dependence
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
honest signal
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Life Sciences & Biomedicine - Other Topics
multicomponent signal
Science & Technology
structural color
Summary Conspicuous colors may signal individual quality if high-quality individuals produce more elaborate colors or have a greater capacity to invest in color maintenance. We investigate these hypotheses using repeated within-individual observations and experimentally induced color production in a wild bird, the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus). Male superb fairy-wrens undergo an annual molt from brown, nonbreeding plumage to an ultraviolet-blue and black breeding plumage. Color maintenance is especially relevant for this species because structural, ultraviolet-blue plumage colors are particularly susceptible to fading. Further, only the most sexually attractive males molt to breeding plumage early (before spring) and thereby keep their colors for an extended time before the breeding season. Our results show that (i) sexually attractive, early-molting males do not have higher quality breeding colors and (ii) breeding colors are not impacted by experimentally inducing males to molt early and while in low body condition. We found that (iii) breeding colors do not fade but remain consistent or become more saturated within individuals over time. Despite this, (iv) males do not spend more time preening while in breeding plumage. Instead, males keep their colors in pristine condition by re-molting parts of their breeding plumage throughout the breeding season, suggesting an alternative, potential cost of maintaining ornamental colors. We conclude that variation in structural breeding colors is unlikely to indicate individual quality in superb fairy-wrens.
Language eng
DOI 10.1093/beheco/araa128
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 0602 Ecology
0603 Evolutionary Biology
0608 Zoology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
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