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The function of female and male ornaments in the Inca Tern: evidence for links between ornament expression and both adult condition and reproductive performance


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Inca Terns Larosterna inca are medium-size seabirds that breed along the Peruvian and Chilean coast. They are monogamous and both sexes incubate and contribute to chick provisioning. The sexes are similar in appearance and have elaborate ornaments, including a long white moustache of feathers and fleshy yellow wattles. In this paper we report the differences in ornamentation between sexes and examine whether the trait predicts body condition, reproductive performance or chick quality in either sex. The ornaments were similar in size and coloration between the sexes, except for the wattle length, the difference in which can be due to greater head length in males. Moustache length was the most reliable signal of body condition in both sexes. Moreover, there was a significant relationship between the moustache length and reproductive category of adults (non-breeder, unsuccessful breeder, or one or two chicks fledged). Both asymptotic chick body mass and the T-cell mediated response of chicks (a measure of immunocompetence) were related to the moustache length of male and female adults. These results provide support for the role of ornaments in mutual signalling of condition in this species. Female and male ornaments predict body condition, reproductive performance and chick quality, as predicted by sexual selection models.
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JOURNAL OF AVIAN BIOLOGY 32: 311318. Copenhagen 2001
The function of female and male ornaments in the Inca Tern:
evidence for links between ornament expression and both adult
condition and reproductive performance
A. Velando, C. M. Lessells and J. C. Ma´rquez
Velando, A., Lessells, C. M. and Ma´rquez, J. C. 2001. The function of female and
male ornaments in the Inca Tern: evidence for links between ornament expression
and both adult condition and reproductive performance. J. Avian Biol. 32:
Inca Terns Larosterna inca are medium-size seabirds that breed along the Peruvian
and Chilean coast. They are monogamous and both sexes incubate and contribute to
chick provisioning. The sexes are similar in appearance and have elaborate orna-
ments, including a long white moustache of feathers and fleshy yellow wattles. In this
paper we report the differences in ornamentation between sexes and examine whether
the trait predicts body condition, reproductive performance or chick quality in either
sex. The ornaments were similar in size and coloration between the sexes, except for
the wattle length, the difference in which can be due to greater head length in males.
Moustache length was the most reliable signal of body condition in both sexes.
Moreover, there was a significant relationship between the moustache length and
reproductive category of adults (non-breeder, unsuccessful breeder, or one or two
chicks fledged). Both asymptotic chick body mass and the T-cell mediated response
of chicks (a measure of immunocompetence) were related to the moustache length of
male and female adults. These results provide support for the role of ornaments in
mutual signalling of condition in this species. Female and male ornaments predict
body condition, reproductive performance and chick quality, as predicted by sexual
selection models.
A.Velando and C.M.Lessells,Netherlands Institute of Ecology,Boterhoeksestraat
PO Box
ZG Heteren,The Netherlands.J.C.Ma´rquez,Subdireccio´n de A6es
Marinas,Instituto del Mar del Peru´,Esquina Gamarra y General Valle,Apdo
Callao-Lima,Peru´ .Present address of A.Velando
Departamento de Ecoloxı´a e
Bioloxı´a Animal,Campus Lagoas -Marcosende,Uni6ersidade de Vigo,
In many animal species males have elaborate orna-
ments, while females are cryptic in appearance. This
phenomenon has been attributed to sexual selection
acting primarily on the male sex (review in Andersson
1994). Females paired with attractive males may gain
either direct benefits such as territorial resources,
parental care and the avoidance of infectious diseases
(Kirkpatrick and Ryan 1991), or indirect benefits
derived from attractive offspring (Fisher 1930), and
even enhance the viability of their offspring by selecting
traits that indicate male genetic quality (Zahavi 1975,
Hamilton and Zuk 1982, Kodric-Brown and Brown
1984, Grafen 1990). Females can assess the variation in
male quality if males in better condition express more
elaborate display. The idea that male ornaments indi-
cate condition is supported by studies showing that the
expression of ornaments correlates with adult condition
and survival (Andersson 1994). Male ornaments may
also be related to intrasexual selection because they
signal male dominance status (Ja¨rvi and Bakken 1984,
Evans and Hatchwell 1992).
However, females of several species show some ex-
pression of the same ornaments as males. Two main
hypotheses have been proposed to explain this. The
‘correlated response hypothesis’ posits that female or-
naments are themselves selectively neutral or even detri-
mental, but result from a genetic correlation between
the trait in males and females in combination with the
selection for the trait in males (Lande 1980, Muma and
Weatherhead 1989, Hill 1993, Cuervo et al. 1996, Tella
et al. 1997). The direct selection hypothesissuggests
that female ornaments are themselves under selection,
either through female-female competition or male
choice (Darwin 1871, Jones and Hunter 1999, Amund-
sen 2000). Also female ornaments may signal social
dominance in contests over limited resources, such as
territories or mates (West-Eberhard 1983, Irwin 1994).
Moreover, they may indicate reproductive or genetic
quality, and hence are preferred by choosy males (Jones
and Montgomerie 1992, Johnsen et al. 1996, Potti and
Merino 1996, Amundsen et al. 1997, Linville et al.
1998, but see Hill 1993). Thus, similar preferences for
ornaments in both sexes and similar competition within
both sexes can explain ornament monomorphism in
some bird species (Jones and Hunter 1999).
Mutual sexual preference is expected to occur in
species where members of both sexes benet from ob-
taining the highest quality mate, such as those where
males provide a substantial amount of parental care to
the offspring (Trivers 1972, Johnstone et al. 1996). In
the Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella, a seabird with
monomorphic ornaments, both sexes showed a prefer-
ence for models with experimentally enlarged crests
(Jones and Hunter 1993). Selection for mutual sig-
nalling of condition is generally expected in seabirds,
because they breed in dense colonies (thus offering
considerable potential for exercising choice), and both
sexes make large contributions to rearing the offspring
and vary substantially in quality (Johnstone et al.
1996). Within both sexes competition can be intense in
seabird species, so intrasexual selection within sexes
could focus on ornaments that function in competition
for access to mates (Jones and Hunter 1999).
Inca Terns Larosterna inca are medium-size seabirds
(c. 220 g) that breed in burrows on talus slopes and
cliffs along the Peruvian and Chilean coast (Guillen
1988). They feed in large ocks on anchovies Engraulis
ringens in the Humboldt current system (Murphy 1936),
and under stable conditions rear two broods in a year.
They are monogamous, pair-formation occurs every
season in the communal areas, and both sexes incubate
and contribute to chick provisioning (Moynihan 1962,
Velando unpubl. data). In other tern species, the total
parental expenditure by males is equal to or outweighs
that of females (Fasola and Saino 1995) and the divorce
rate is very high (c. 58% in Caspian Terns Sterna
caspia, Cuthbert 1985). In Inca Terns the sexes are
similar in appearance, both displaying elaborate orna-
ments including a long white moustache of feathers and
eshy yellow wattles. The ornaments are displayed dur-
ing the whole year and could be a reliable signal of
quality in both sexes. In this paper we quantied differ-
ences in ornamentation between sexes and examined
whether ornaments predicted body condition, reproduc-
tive performance or chick quality in either sex, as
predicted by some sexual selection hypotheses.
Study area and studied animals
This study was carried out on the Isla La Vieja,
Reserva Nacional de Paracas, Peru (14°17%S, 76°11%W),
from October to December 1999. Inca Terns build their
nests in crevices in cliffs along the coast of the island
and lay one, or more frequently two eggs. We marked
90 nests in three adjacent sub-colonies during the laying
period. Hatching order and date of hatching of each
chick in the brood were obtained by making daily visits
around the time of hatching. Each chick was tagged
with a coloured velcro strip around the tarsus that
identied chicks within brood. These strips were ex-
panded as the chicks grew. Hatching dates provided an
indication of laying date. The reproductive success of
each nest was recorded as the number of chicks edged.
During incubation, we captured adults at the nest at
night. To reduce the risk of desertion, we only caught
one adult per nest. Therefore, we could not investigate
assortative mating for ornament size or control for the
ornament size of the other adult in the analysis of
reproductive category. During the same period, we also
captured 16 non-breeding adults by night-lighting at a
roost away from the colonies. Birds were weighed to
the nearest gram using a spring balance. We measured
head length (to the nearest 0.01 mm) with digital cal-
lipers and wing length (to the nearest mm) with a metal
ruler with a stop. A blood sample was obtained from
each bird by puncturing the brachial vein and transfer-
ring the blood to a tube containing an equal volume of
ethanol. Sex was determined through PCR amplica-
tion of part of the CHD gene using primers P2 and P8
following Grifths et al. (1998). PCR products were
visualized and photographed under UV light. As ex-
pected, two patterns were observed, one consisting of a
single band of approximately 390 bp, corresponding to
males, and the other showing a second additional band
of approximately 420 bp, corresponding to females. Sex
determined in this way agreed with that based on
behaviour for two females and two males.
Ornament measurements
Inca Terns have slate-coloured plumage and a crimson
bill and legs. They are ornamented with long white
feather moustaches and yellow gape wattles (Fig. 1).
The moustaches consist of tufts of white feathers on
either side of the head running from in front of the eyes
to the back of the cheeks, where they are prolonged by
the plumes of the feathers. We measured the length of
the straightened left and right moustaches of captured
individuals (to the nearest mm) using a transparent
ruler (see Fig. 1). Moustache length was the mean of
these two values, and moustache asymmetry their abso-
lute difference. The right wattle length was measured (to
the nearest 0.01 mm) with digital callipers. The colour of
wattles was scored by comparison with a commercial
S-5 colour card from 1 (dull orange) to 5
(bright yellow). Birds have a UV-sensitive vision, and
therefore they can perceive colour signals not perceived
by humans (Bennet and Cuthill 1994). This could be a
potential problem for this study because we did not
measure UV-light reection. Therefore in this study we
may have mis-measured UV colour; however, it has been
argued that quantifying coloration exclusively by human
retina can be reasonable for longer wavelengths (Zuk and
Decruyenaere 1994, Andersson 1999).
Adult condition
We studied the relationships between adult body condi-
tion and ornament expression. In our sample there was
no relationship between body mass and the number of
days between laying and capture dates, so body mass was
not corrected for this variable. In order to avoid the effect
of body size on body condition, we estimated body
condition using residuals from the regression of body
mass (in g) on head length (in mm) for males and females
separately (Females: body mass=4.19 (head length)
135.89, r
=0.19, n=61, pB0.001, Males: body mass =
4.53 (head length)170.91, r
=0.13, n=43, p=0.01).
The residuals were standardized within each sex. We also
carried out the analysis using body mass and the residual
of body mass on wing length (body mass=1.01 (wing
length)64.23, r
=0.12, n=106, pB0.001) as indica-
tors of body condition.
Chick growth and immunocompetence
Asymptotic chick body mass was measured at 2530
days old using a spring balance (to the nearest gram). As
a measure of immunocompetence, we used the T-cell-me-
diated immune response to an injection of 0.1 mg of
phytohaemaglutinin (PHA) in 0.05 ml of phosphate
buffered saline (PBS) in the left wing web (Smiths et al.
1999). The point of injection was marked with an
indelible marker. Three replicate measurements of
patagium thickness were taken with a digital micrometer
to the nearest 0.001 mm prior to the injection, and again
24 h later. The wing web indexwas the change in
thickness (mm) of the wing web (difference between 24-h
post-injection thickness and pre-injection thickness). The
repeatability of wing-web measurements was derived
from the intra-class correlation coefcient (Lessells and
Boag 1987). Wing-web thickness measures were signi-
cantly repeatable, both for initial measures (r=0.916,
=33.65, pB0.0001) and for nal measures (r=
0.959, F
=70.48, pB0.0001). Asymptotic chick
body mass and wing web index were not related with
chick order, brood size or nestling age, so they were not
corrected for these variables.
Differences between sexes
The mean ornament sizes of adult birds caught during
incubation and sexed by molecular analysis are given in
Table 1. No sexual differences were found in moustache
length, moustache asymmetry and wattle colour. Wattle
length was slightly but signicantly longer in males
than in females. Body mass and wing length were
similar in the two sexes, but head length was longer in
males. Moreover, there was a signicant correlation
between wattle length and head length (r=0.37, n=
107, pB0.001). Thus, the differences between sexes in
wattle length could be due to sexual differences in head
Relationships among ornament characteristics were
investigated using correlation. Moustache length was
positively correlated with wattle length (r=0.32, n=
104, p=0.001) and wattle colour (r=0.29, n =103
p=0.004). None of the other correlations between
ornament measures were signicant (p\0.05).
Ornamentation and condition of adult birds
Body condition (the residuals of body mass on head
size) was related to male and female ornaments (Table
2). Overall, ornaments explained a signicant propor-
tion (19%) of the variance in body condition of adult
birds. In analyses of covariance examining sexual dif-
ferences in the relationships between each ornament
measure and body condition, none of the sex or interac-
tion terms were signicant (p\0.05 in each case).
Fig. 1. Measurement of Inca Tern ornaments (see Methods).
1. Moustache length, measured to the tip of the longest plume
when the moustache was straightened. 2. Wattle length, mea-
sured as the maximum length of the eshy wattles.
Table 1. Sexual differences in ornaments (see Fig. 1), body size and body mass of adult Inca Terns sexed by molecular analysis
compared by t-tests and Mann-Whitney test. Signicant differences are indicated in bold type. Sexual dimorphism index (SDI)
is expressed as male mean/female mean.
Trait Females Males Differences
Mean SE n Mean SE n SDI t or Z
Head length (mm) 84.27 0.20 62 86.98 0.22 43 1.03 8.85 0.001
Wing length (mm) 280.95 0.82 62 281.02 0.65 43 1.00 0.69 0.94
Body mass (g) 216.9 1.94 62 222.91 2.7 43 1.03 1.78 0.08
1.64 0.6569.67600.5670.37Moustache length (mm) 0.9942 0.46
1.72600.222.03Moustache asymmetry (mm) 0.25 0.410.830.8542
0.17 43 1.04 2.63 0.010.13 15.9815.40Wattle length (mm) 61
2.47Wattle colour score
0.240.91400.152.2561 1.15
Wattle colour scores were tested using a Mann-Whitney test, for which the Z value is given.
Table 2. Correlation coefcients between body condition (residuals from the regression of body mass on head length for each
sex) and ve ornament measures. The results from multiple regression analyses using all trait measures are also shown.
Signicant correlations are indicated in bold type.
TotalFemales Males
pr npr nnr p
B0.0011020.380.030Moustache length (mm) 420.330.002600.40
0.1661020.140.200420.200.425600.10Moustache asymmetry (mm)
1030.250.049420.29 0.0110.070610.23Wattle length (mm)
Wattle colour score 0.32
61 0.011 0.05
42 0.741 0.19
103 0.052
420.430.013600.44 B0.001102Multiple regression 0.440.080
Spearman rank correlation.
Moustache length was the only ornament to which
body condition was signicantly related. This variable
accounted for 11% of the variance in male body condi-
tion and 16% of the variance in female body condition.
Similar relationships were found between the residuals
of body mass on wing length, or body mass, and
moustache length (Fig. 2).
There was a signicant relationship between mous-
tache length and reproductive category of both sexes of
adults (Fig. 3), but the sex and interaction effects were
not signicant. A post hoc analysis (LSD) in both sexes
combined indicated that successful birds had signi-
cantly longer moustaches than non-breeding ones (p=
0.001). The residuals of moustache length on body
condition (Fig. 2a) were used to control for the effect of
body condition on moustache length. Thus, the effect
of moustache length on reproductive category after
controlling for body condition was also signicant
=2.76, p=0.047). Reproductive category and
success (number of young edged) were not related to
any other ornament measure (p\0.10 in each case).
Also, there was no relationship between timing of
breeding and any ornament (p\0.10 in all cases).
Adult ornamentation and chick condition
We used body mass and wing web index of chicks as
indicators of chick quality. These measures were
strongly correlated, and therefore nestlings of small
body mass had poorer mean immunocompetence than
those of large body mass (r=0.46, n=27, p =0.01).
Mean chick mass and wing web index were not corre-
lated with parentsbody condition (mean chick mass:
r=0.23, n=33, p=0.20; mean wing web index: r =
0.05, n=39, p=0.79). Only parent moustache length
was correlated with mean chick mass and mean wing
web index (Fig. 4). In analyses of covariance examining
sexual differences in the relationships between mous-
tache length and chick mass or immunocompetence
none of the sex or interaction terms were signicant
(p\0.05 in each case). Thus, both males and females
with larger moustaches reared heavier chicks with bet-
ter immune responses (Fig. 4).
The results of this study showed that ornaments
provide a good indication of individual quality among
adult Inca Terns. Body size, ornament size and col-
oration were similar in both sexes, except for head and
wattle length, which were both longer in males. More-
over, the ornaments provided a similar indication of
condition in both sexes (Table 2). Of the ornaments
measured, moustache length seemed to most reliably
reect female and male quality: adults with longer
Fig. 3. Moustache length (Mean9SE) of adult Inca Terns in
relation to reproductive category. Numbers above the bars are
sample sizes. Because only one adult from each pair was
caught, reproductive category is only scored once for each
nest. The results of General Linear Model (GLM) were: sex:
=0.63, p=0.421; category: F
=4.67, p=0.005; cate-
gory×sex: F
=0.34, p=0.797.
Fig. 2. Relationships between body condition (residuals of body
mass on head or wing length) or body mass and moustache
length of adult Inca Terns (44 males, ; and 61 females, ).
moustaches were the most productive and their chicks
were heavier and had better immune responses. These
results are consistent with predictions of honest adver-
tisement models (e.g. Kodric-Brown and Brown 1984,
Grafen 1990). Nevertheless, correlation between orna-
ments and condition may also be consistent with other
models, such as sensory exploitation(Jones and
Hunter 1998) and Fisherian runaway(Balmford and
Read 1991, Jones and Hunter 1998). If the ornaments
play an important role in signalling, they may be
involved in mate choice, in competition among mem-
bers of the same sex, or in both (Jones and Hunter
1999, Amundsen 2000).
In many bird species, breeding success declines sea-
sonally (review for seabirds in Moreno 1998) and in
some of these species, the early breeders are more
ornamented (e.g. Ja¨rvi et al. 1987, Møller 1994). In our
study, we did not nd any relationship between adult
ornamentation and the timing of breeding. In tropical
seabirds, such as Inca Terns, the timing of breeding is
irregular and not constrained by seasonal inuences
(Ashmole 1971, Zavalaga 1997). Thus, a correlation
between ornament expression and laying date is not
expected in this species. We found a positive relation-
ship between chick mass or immunocompetence and
moustache length. However, there was no relationship
between chick mass or immunocompetence and adult
condition, and the relationship between moustache
length and reproductive category was signicant also
when controlled for body condition. In Inca Tern
chicks, immunocompetence was positively correlated
with nestling mass. This result agrees with other studies,
which have shown a positive relationship between nu-
tritional condition, survival and immunocompetence of
nestlings (e.g. Saino et al. 1997, Christe et al. 1998; see
also Alonso-Alvarez and Tella 2001). In a cross-foster-
ing experiment, cell-mediated immunity in nestling
Great Tits Parus major was due to both environmental
and heritable variation (Brinkhof et al. 1999). Thus, the
correlation between chick mass and immunocompe-
tence and parentsmoustache length found in this study
could be due to higher genetic and/or phenotypic qual-
ity of the adults.
There is some indirect evidence that Inca Tern orna-
ments are inuenced by sexual selection. Both the white
moustache and yellow wattle appear only in birds of
breeding age. They are prominently emphasized during
courtship and hostile displays in both sexes (Moynihan
1962, Velando unpubl. data), but have no obvious use
in parental care, foraging or thermoregulation. Thus,
the ornaments of Inca Terns may have evolved by
sexual selection driven by mating preferences or intra-
sexual competition.
In several species, there is evidence that ornaments
are the product of sexual selection, but studies have
usually concentrated on male traits (Andersson 1994,
but see Jones and Hunter 1993, 1999, Amundsen et al.
1997, Amundsen 2000, Jones et al. 2000). Studies on
dimorphic birds, in which the females show some lim-
ited expression of the ornaments found in males, have
reached mixed conclusions. Some support the corre-
lated response (Johnson 1988, Muma and Weatherhead
1989, Hill 1993, Cuervo et al. 1996, Tella et al. 1997),
but others support the direct selection hypothesis
(Johnsen et al. 1996, Potti and Merino 1996, Amundsen
et al. 1997, Linville et al. 1998, Hansen et al. 1999).
Few studies have investigated ornament expression in
females of monomorphic species. In Crested Auklets, a
monomorphic seabird, crest size is the product of inter-
and intrasexual selection in both sexes (Jones and
Hunter 1993, 1999, Jones et al. 2000). In Least Auklets
Aethia pusilla, another monomorphic species, there is
also some evidence for mutual sexual selection (Jones
and Montgomerie 1992). Mutual sexual selection (intra-
and intersexual selection) is expected in seabirds be-
cause the parental roles are similar in males and females
(Johnstone et al. 1996, Jones and Hunter 1999) and
many seabird species have sexually monomorphic orna-
ments which are used by both sexes in courtship and
hostile displays (e.g. Inca Tern, Moynihan 1962; trop-
icbirds (Phaethontidae), van Tets 1965; Long-tailed
Skua Stercorarius longicaudus, Andersson 1971; Crested
Auklet, Jones 1993).
Inca Terns are sexually monomorphic in their orna-
ments (Table 1), and we found a signicant relationship
between adult condition and ornament expression in
both sexes (Figs 23). According to the correlated
response hypothesis female ornaments have no func-
tion, but our results showed a link between female
condition or reproductive performance and the expres-
sion of female moustaches. However, the relationship
between reproductive performance and female orna-
ment could be due to assortative mating with respect to
moustache length and a genetic correlation between
female expression and female preference for male orna-
mentation (Cuervo et al. 1996). In this case, moustache
length should be a better predictor of quality in males
than in females. However, in our study we found
equally strong relationships between reproduction,
chick mass or immunocompetence and ornaments in
females and males. Moreover, the relationship between
ornamentation and condition suggests that ornaments
may be costly to produce or maintain. If the ornaments
are costly, our results agree better with the hypothesis
that female traits are themselves under selection. Orna-
ment expression can be limited by the direct cost of
Fig. 4. Mean wing web index and body mass of nestlings in
relation to moustache length of adult male () and female
() Inca Terns.
producing the ornament itself or by social control and
the cost of dominance (Andersson 1994, Jones and
Hunter 1999). During the studied season (October to
December 1999), the terns had a good breeding season
with abundant anchovies, as a consequence of a cold
rich phase after the 19971998 El Nin˜o. In 1998, Inca
Terns did not breed due to low anchovy availability
during El Nin˜o (Jahncke 1998). In this year they had
shorter moustaches than in 1999, and there was a
correlation between moustache length and body condi-
tion (explaining 20% of the variance; Velando and
Ma´rquez unpubl. data), which suggests a strong rela-
tionship between ornament expression and adult
An alternative explanation for the observed relation-
ship between condition and ornament expression, which
we did not test, could be that the ornament expression
is related to age. Age effects would not allow us to
distinguish between correlated and direct hypotheses
(Muma and Weatherhead 1989). In conclusion, our
results seem to support that ornaments have a sig-
nalling function in both sexes of Inca Tern, which is
consistent with the hypothesis that female ornaments
are directly under selection themselves. However, the
correlated response hypothesis cannot be entirely re-
futed by this study, as we did not test whether the
ornaments are used as signals. In addition, this study
provides little insight into which, if any, direct selection
mechanism best explains female ornament function and
evolution. Therefore, experimental studies of this spe-
cies are required to test the role that ornaments play in
signalling parental quality, in mate choice and in intra-
sexual interactions, particularly in females.
Acknowledgements We are especially grateful to Elisa Goya
for logistic support and to Jose Antonio Godoy and Carlos
Alonso-Alvarez for their help in sexing terns. We also thank
the Instituto del Mar del Peru´(IMARPE), Proabonos and
Intituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA) and espe-
cially to Godofredo Can˜ote and Julio Cesar Ruiz for the
permissions to conduct research and for providing facilities on
the Isla La Vieja. During the study, AV was funded with a
grant from Xunta de Galicia, Spain.
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... Además, tienen una distribución a lo largo de toda la costa [61] y sus zonas de anidación y descanso son de fácil acceso. Porúltimo, tienen ornamentos sexuales presentes a lo largo del año y en ambos sexos, relacionados a la condición corporal del ave y a parámetros reproductivos [68]; los cuales son potencialmente, junto con elíndice de condición corporal, las características morfométricas indicadoras de las condiciones ambientales que la investigación busca obtener como respuesta a la pregunta central. ...
... . Planteamiento de la Investigación desarrollo del plumaje durante eventos El Niño o desfavorables para el zarcillo no han sido estudiados, solo se menciona que el largo del bigote o también llamado zarcillo fue más corto durante noviembre de 1998[68]. Muy pocos datos existen sobre la muda del plumaje del zarcillo, sin embargo Zavalaga en 1997 sugiere que podría ser durante el verano austral[65], cuando el alimento es abundante y disponible y puede cubrir los altos requerimientos energéticos del crecimiento de nuevas plumas[69]. ...
... Muy pocos datos existen sobre la muda del plumaje del zarcillo, sin embargo Zavalaga en 1997 sugiere que podría ser durante el verano austral[65], cuando el alimento es abundante y disponible y puede cubrir los altos requerimientos energéticos del crecimiento de nuevas plumas[69]. El bigote y la carnosidad amarilla se exhiben durante todo el año siendo el largo del zarcillo un buen signo de la condición corporal y que además está correlacionado con eléxito reproductivo de estas aves[68], pudiendo ser un buen indicador de las condiciones ambientales durante el desarrollo de dicha pluma.4.3 JustificaciónUna especie puede ser utilizada como indicador del ambiente si se comprueba una relación entre una de sus características y una del ambiente. En el ecosistema de la corriente de Humboldt existen aves marinas que pueden ser usadas como indicadoras, como lo demuestran estudios que han utilizado biologging[70]. ...
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Top predators, such as seabirds, are integrators of processes in marine ecosystems that can be indicator species because of the relationship between their natural history and the energy in the ecosystem. The aim of this thesis is to determine the relationship between morphometric characteristics in the Inca Tern (Larosterna inca), an endemic seabird of the Humboldt Current System (HCS), with chlorophyll-a (chl), sea surface temperature (TSM) and their anomalies using Generalized Additive Models (GAM). Information of biometric measurements and weight of the birds were recorded between November 2013 and 2015 in islands of Peru. With this information, body condition indexes (ICC) and asymmetry indixes for the mustache and wing feather were built. It was found that a higher TSM,chl-a and chl-a anomally, the ICC increases. Likewise, the greater asymmetry of the wing is founded when there are low chl-a concentrations, the asymmetry of the mustache increases with positive TSM anomalies. It is necessary to continue exploring the different variables that may be related to body condition and the asymmetry of the plumage of these and other seabirds in the SCH, and that these can be used as indicators of the availability and abundance of food in the SCH under a ecosystem approach.
... Although plumage coloration is typically more elaborate in males than females, attempts to also understand the role of conspicuous female coloration in sexual and social selection have recently increased (Beck 2013, Freeman-Gallant et al. 2014, Bulluck et al. 2017. Several studies have found positive relationships between female carotenoid coloration and fitness, or metrics of individual quality, such as reproductive output (Velando et al. 2001, Masello and Quillfeldt 2003, Massaro et al. 2003, annual survival (Hõrak et al. 2001), body condition (Velando et al. 2001, Hill 2002, Masello and Quillfeldt 2003, and immunocompetence (Harper 1999, LeClaire et al. 2011. Thus, males, much like females, may also benefit by selecting to mate with more colorful carotenoid-pigmented females (Hill 1993a, Amundsen et al. 1997, MacDougal and Montgomerie 2003. ...
... Although plumage coloration is typically more elaborate in males than females, attempts to also understand the role of conspicuous female coloration in sexual and social selection have recently increased (Beck 2013, Freeman-Gallant et al. 2014, Bulluck et al. 2017. Several studies have found positive relationships between female carotenoid coloration and fitness, or metrics of individual quality, such as reproductive output (Velando et al. 2001, Masello and Quillfeldt 2003, Massaro et al. 2003, annual survival (Hõrak et al. 2001), body condition (Velando et al. 2001, Hill 2002, Masello and Quillfeldt 2003, and immunocompetence (Harper 1999, LeClaire et al. 2011. Thus, males, much like females, may also benefit by selecting to mate with more colorful carotenoid-pigmented females (Hill 1993a, Amundsen et al. 1997, MacDougal and Montgomerie 2003. ...
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Many birds use conspicuous plumage coloration to signal quality for sexual or social selection. However, it is still often unclear how intraspecific coloration and associated signaling vary spatially. Plumage coloration that is dependent on carotenoids may be ideal for studying spatial color variation because birds cannot naturally synthesize this pigment; therefore, bird coloration from carotenoids is at least partially contingent upon diet. As food availability often varies spatially, so might color and its signaling strength. While male coloration has received more research focus, less is known about female coloration and its relationships with social rank or sexual quality. To further improve our understanding of spatial variation in plumage coloration and correlations with individual quality, we compared Prothonotary Warblers breeding at 2 ecologically disparate sites separated by 1,300 km: in bottomland forests of Arkansas, USA, and the forests near the tidal freshwater James River in Virginia, USA. We assessed crown and breast plumage coloration for both sexes and compared several color metrics between sites. We then assessed surrogates of female quality (number of young fledged, number of eggs laid, provisioning rate, apparent annual survival, and nest depredation) and compared coloration-quality relationships between sites. We found that coloration of birds breeding in Arkansas was generally more elaborate than those breeding in Virginia. However, this was somewhat dependent on sex: females showed greater differences than males between sites. Additionally, color metrics of females breeding in Virginia showed stronger relationships with quality (all 5 quality metrics) than for birds breeding in Arkansas (only provisioning rate and nest depredation). Proximately, spatial variation in plumage coloration and the associated signaling may be explained by differences in diet between sites. Ultimately, spatial variation in intra- and intersexual selection pressures may explain how spatial variation in plumage signal strength evolved.
... We tested the cell-mediated immunity of males using a phytohemagglutinin (PHA) injection assay (verified in G. holbrooki and other fish species; Iglesias-Carrasco et al. 2019; Petitjean et al. 2021). PHA-stimulated response provides an effective evaluation of inflammation and cellular immune function (Goto et al. 1978), which has been linked to investments into pre-and postcopulatory traits (Velando et al. 2001;Simmons and Roberts 2005). With the male under anesthesia, we measured his body thickness at the posterior end of the dorsal fin with a pressuresensitive spessimeter (Mitutoyo 547-301, accuracy: 0.01 mm), using the mean of five consecutive measures. ...
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Although it is widely stated that both mating behavior and sperm traits are energetically costly for males, we currently lack empirical estimates of the relative costs to males of pre‐ versus postcopulatory investments. Such estimates require the experimental separation of the act of mating from that of ejaculation, which is a nontrivial logistical challenge. Here, we overcome this challenge using a novel morphological manipulation (gonopodium tip ablation) in the eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) to tease apart investment in mating effort from that in sperm replenishment following ejaculation. We quantified the relative cumulative costs of investing in mating effort and ejaculation by comparing somatic traits and reproductive performance among three types of males: ablated males that could attempt to mate but not ejaculate; unablated males that could both mate and ejaculate; and control males that had no access to females. We show that, after eight weeks, mating investment significantly reduces both body growth and immunocompetence and results in a significant decline in mating effort. In contrast, cumulative investment into sperm replenishment following ejaculation has few detectable effects that are only apparent in smaller males. These minor costs occur despite the fact that G. holbrooki has very high levels of sperm competition and multiple mating by both sexes, which is usually associated with elevated levels of sperm production. Crucially, our study is the first, to our knowledge, to experimentally compare the relative costs of pre‐ and postcopulatory investment on components of male fitness in a vertebrate.
... Hunter (1993, 1999) presented experimental evidence that variation in the size of a small, ornamental tuft of feathers found on the heads of both male and female Crested Auklets (Aethia cristatella) inspires corresponding intensities of courtship displays in both sexes, indicating that this crest plays an important role in mutual mate choice. Similarly, Velando et al. (2001) found evidence of honest signaling via the ''moustache'' ornament in Inca Terns (Larosterna inca). Although these species resemble the majority of seabirds in being monogamous and monomorphic, most seabirds lack obvious ornamentation analogous to a crest or a moustache, and it is unclear what factors might influence mate choice in these relatively unadorned species. ...
Many seabirds are monomorphic and lack obvious ornamentation; thus the mechanisms and signaling systems that mediate mate choice can be elusive. We investigated the possibility that a unique characteristic of wing molt in most species of Sterna terns acts as a sexually selected indicator of fitness. Many terns replace a variable number of primaries and sometimes secondaries twice or occasionally three times each year. Some have suggested that this repeated wing molt may serve as an honest indicator of fitness in mutual mate choice. If this molt-signaling hypothesis is valid, one would expect there to be assortative mating with respect to the extent of repeated wing molt. We tested this prediction by examining 262 breeding pairs of Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) from colonies in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Using banding records and plumage characters, we were often able to distinguish young birds making their first breeding attempt from older birds which may have maintained past pair bonds. We found evidence of assortative mating with respect to repeated wing molt in newly formed pairs, which supports the notion of wing molt as a sexually selected character. Muda del Ala y Apareamento Asociativo en Sterna hirundo: Una Prueba de la Hipótesis de la Muda-Señalización Resumen. Muchas aves marinas son monomórficas y no tienen ornamentaciones obvias; por tanto, los mecanismos y los sistemas de señales que media la selección de pareja son evasivos. Investigamos la posibilidad de que una característica única de la muda en la mayoría de las especies de charranes (Sterna spp.) funcione como un indicador de la aptitud sexualmente seleccionado. Muchos charranes substituyen un número variable de primarias y a veces de secundarias dos veces, u ocasionalmente tres veces, cada año. Algunos autores han sugerido que esta muda repetida podría servir como un indicador honesto de la aptitud durante la selección mutua de las parejas. Si esta hipótesis de la muda-señalización fuera válida, se esperaría que existiera apareamiento asociativo con respecto al grado de la muda repetida de las alas. Para poner a prueba esta predicción, examinamos 262 parejas reproductivas de Sterna hirundo, en colonias en la Bahía Buzzards, Massachusetts. Usando registros de anillamiento y caracteres del plumaje, pudimos distinguir con frecuencia los charranes jóvenes que hacían su primer intento de aparearse de los más viejos que pudieron haber mantenido enlaces con parejas anteriores. Encontramos evidencia de apareamento asociativo con respecto a la muda repetida de las alas en parejas nuevas, lo que apoya la noción de que la muda del ala sería un caracter seleccionado sexualmente.
... Extreme life-history characteristics and coloniality of seabirds in general, and of Cory's Shearwater in particular, make seabirds suitable species to study variability and evolution of CMI. However, CMI has been studied previously only in the Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis Antarctica; Moreno et al. 1998), Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus; Moreno et al. 2001), Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans; Alonso-Alvarez and , Esparza et al. 2004, Inca Tern (Larosterna inca; Velando et al. 2001), and European Storm-Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus; Esparza et al. 2004; see review by Tella et al. 2002). Here, we investigate the intraspecific variability of CMI in relation to: ...
T-cell mediated immune response (CMI) hasbeen widely studied in relation to individual andfitness components in birds. However, few studieshave simultaneously examined individual and socialfactors and habitat-mediated variance in theimmunity of chicks and adults from the samepopulation and in the same breeding season. Weinvestigated ecological and physiological variancein CMI of male and female nestlings and adults in abreeding population of Cory's Shearwaters(Calonectrisdiomedea) in theMediterranean Sea. Explanatory variables includedindividual traits (body condition, carbon andnitrogen stable isotope ratios, plasma totalproteins, triglycerides, uric acid, osmolarity,β-hydroxy-butyrate, erythrocyte meancorpuscular diameter, hematocrit, andhemoglobin) and burrow traits(temperature, isolation, and physicalstructure). During incubation, immune responseof adult males was significantly greater than thatof females. Nestlings exhibited a lower immuneresponse than adults. Ecological and physiologicalfactors affecting immune response differed betweenadults and nestlings. General linear models showedthat immune response in adult males was positivelyassociated with burrow isolation, suggesting thatmales breeding at higher densities suffer immunesystem suppression. In contrast, immune response inchicks was positively associated with bodycondition and plasma triglyceride levels.Therefore, adult immune response appears to beassociated with social stress, whereas a trade-offbetween immune function and fasting capability mayexist for nestlings. Our results, and those fromprevious studies, provide support for anasymmetrical influence of ecological andphysiological factors on the health of differentage and sex groups within a population, and for theimportance of simultaneously considering individualand population characteristics in intraspecificstudies of immune response.
... Organisms exhibiting intersexual selection often display external cues intended to influence mate selection (Berglund et al. 1996). These features can act as markers of the reproductive status (Velando et al. 2001), underlying physiological condition (Loyau et al. 2005) or individual quality of potential mates (Hanssen et al. 2006). Selecting a reproductive partner with traits showcasing beneficial qualities should therefore lead to increased fitness through an improved ability to raise offspring (Andersson 1982). ...
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Floaters constitute the sexually mature but non-breeding part of populations. Despite being ubiquitous in most species, knowledge about floaters is scarce. Ignoring this significant number of individuals may strongly bias our understanding of population dynamics and sexual selection processes. We used the spotless starling ( Sturnus unicolor ) to examine whether phenotypical and non-phenotypical variables from early and adult life predict reproductive status, focusing on the earliest age at which most individuals start to breed, when the percentage of floaters is the highest. We compiled data from a long-term study involving eight female and seven male cohorts of individuals PIT-tagged at birth. We compared a suite of nestling (condition, hatching date and brood size) and adult variables (condition, size and ornamentation) between floaters and breeders. We found that adult and nestling body condition strongly and positively influenced the likelihood of breeding in males. Path analysis revealed that male reproductive status could only be predicted by considering nestling body condition—the influence of this variable superseded adult body condition. Female reproductive status was only negatively associated with hatching date. Ornamentation was not associated with reproductive status in any of the sexes, although path analyses revealed that body condition was positively associated with throat feather length. We conclude that predictors of reproductive status are sex-specific in the spotless starling, suggesting an important role of body condition in access to breeding resources in males. Our results also highlight the long-term influence of early life on life trajectories and their potential implications on floating status.
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Despite their prevalence in nature, the evolution of sex-specific female ornaments is still not well understood. Although in some cases (often carotenoid-based ornaments) they appear to honestly signal quality, such as fecundity, it has been suggested that some female ornaments evolved to deceptively obtain matings. One such case is the long-tailed dance fly (Rhamphomyia longicauda) where females possess two sex-specific ornaments: pinnate scales on the hind femur and tibia and abdominal sacs that are inflated in female-biased “display” swarms. Because females rely on male nuptial food gifts to initiate and sustain egg development, female ornaments are thought to have evolved in the context of deceiving males to obtain gifts. For males, the costs of being deceived may be reduced if female ornaments on average provide valuable information about female quality such as fecundity to males. Here, we use static allometry (with body size as a proxy for condition) of both ornamental and non-ornamental traits in females (and homologous non-ornamental traits in males) in order to determine whether they indicate condition to males. Most male traits scaled isometrically with body size, however, as often expected for sexually selected traits, female ornaments (abdomen area and tibia scale length) showed significant positive allometry and had steep slopes relative to non-ornamental traits. In addition, male leg hairs (homologous with female scales) showed positive static allometry, probably because they are involved in nuptial-prey capture or in grasping mates. As larger females invest more in ornamentation relative to smaller females, their ornaments may exaggerate differences in female condition and thus inform male mating decisions.
For sexual selection to act on a given sex, there must exist variation in the reproductive success of that sex as a result of differential access to mates or fertilisations. The mechanisms and consequences of sexual selection acting on male animals are well documented, but research on sexual selection acting on females has only recently received attention. Controversy still exists over whether sexual selection acts on females in the traditional sense, and over whether to modify the existing definition of sexual selection (to include resource competition) or to invoke alternative mechanisms (usually social selection) to explain selection acting on females in connection with reproduction. However, substantial evidence exists of females bearing characters or exhibiting behaviours that result in differential reproductive success that are analogous to those attributed to sexual selection in males. Here we summarise the literature and provide substantial evidence of female intrasexual competition for access to mates, female intersexual signalling to potential mates, and postcopulatory mechanisms such as competition between eggs for access to sperm and cryptic male allocation. Our review makes clear that sexual selection acts on females and males in similar ways but sometimes to differing extents: the ceiling for the elaboration of costly traits may be lower in females than in males. We predict that current and future research on female sexual selection will provide increasing support for the parsimony and utility of the existing definition of sexual selection.
Sexual selection operates via female choice and male competition, which can act independently, in concert, or in opposition. Female choice is typically considered the stronger selective force, but how these two processes interact to shape phenotypic divergence is poorly understood. I tested the hypothesis that variation in sexual selection in different habitats drives song divergence in the greenish warbler ring species. I evaluated the strength, direction, and targets of female choice and male competition in three populations spanning 2400 km of latitude. Average song length increased with latitude, concomitant with a decline in population density. Within populations, males sang longer songs when females were fertile and shorter songs during territory establishment. Females consistently preferred males with longer songs and larger song repertoires. By contrast, playback experiments showed that males used short songs in territory defense. Songs were shortest at high densities, and in the highest density population only, song traits preferred by females correlated with male territoriality. Stronger male competition at high population densities likely constrains maximum song length, whereas weaker competition at low densities allows expression of female choice for long songs. Interactions between male competition and ecology may be a crucial but oft‐overlooked component of phenotypic divergence and speciation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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In altricial birds post-fledging survival is usually positively related to nestling body mass. A large number of studies have shown that the latest hatched chick is the more likely to die, even if food is abundant. Here we suggest that ectoparasites may be a key factor in the evolution and the maintenance of the establishment of weight hierarchies within broods. We propose the hyplothesis that weight hierarchies within broods may be adaptive if the chick in poor condition is the one with the least efficient immune system within a nest. In this case parasites would preferentially feed on such a "tasty chick", because it would allow high reproductive rates for the parasites, without negatively affecting the survival of the other nestlings. This could prevent entire nest failure of the brood or allow the other chicks to grow more efficiently. This hypothesis was investigated in a colony of house martins Delichon urbica. We predicted that immunocompetence was positively correlated with body condition, and that nestlings dying before fledging should have lower immune responses when challenged with an antigen. T-cell immune response to an experimentally injected antigen was strongly positively related to body condition. Non-surviving chicks had low body condition and a weak immune response. The implications of these results are discussed in the context of the adaptive significance of hatching asynchrony.
Sexual competition is associated closely with parental care because the sex providing less care has a higher potential rate of reproduction, and hence more to gain from competing for multiple mates. Sex differences in choosiness are not easily explained, however. The lower-caring sex (often males) has both higher costs of choice, because it is more difficult to find replacement mates, and higher direct benefits, because the sex providing more care (usually females) is likely to exhibit more variation in the quality of contributions to the young. Because both the costs and direct benefits of mate choice increase with increasing parental care by the opposite sex, general predictions about sex difference in choosiness are difficult. Furthermore, the level of choosiness of one sex will be influenced by the choosiness of the other. Here, we present an ESS model of mutual mate choice, which explicitly incorporates differences between males and females in life history traits that determine the costs and benefits of choice, and we illustrate our results with data from species with contrasting forms of parental care. The model demonstrates that sex differences in costs of choice are likely to have a much stronger effect on choosiness than are differences in quality variation, so that the less competitive sex will commonly be more choosy. However, when levels of male and female care are similar, differences in quality variation may lead to higher levels of both choice and competition in the same sex.
Variables related to fecundity or reproductive success like clutch size, egg size, chick growth and survival, etc., are subject to seasonal declines in numerous species of seabirds breeding in temperate or polar areas. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain this phenomenon: 1) food availability decreases throughout the breeding season (food supply hypothesis); 2) late nests suffer higher predation risks due to the diminishing dilution effect (predation hypothesis); 3) young or inexperienced breeders, or individuals less efficient in finding food, will breed late (parental quality hypothesis), and 4) late reproducers do not invest as much as early ones (reproductive restraint hypothesis) because a) chicks hatched late in the season have a lower reproductive value, and/or b) an increasing need to invest in the adults' own survival as the season advances. Here, I elucidate the generality of seasonal declines in fecundity or breeding success in seabirds. Further, the impact of age and breeding experience on reproductive performance is shown to be important, as predicted by the 'parental quality' hypothesis. A search of the seabird literature shows scant evidence on the importance of seasonal trends in food availability or predation risk for eggs and chicks. Further, the basic tenets of the 'restraint' hypothesis are discussed in full and its underpinnings in life-history theory formally presented. This hypothesis has not received its due share of attention in the seabird literature, although it appears especially suitable for such long-lived animals. Finally, the scarce experimental evidence testing the different hypotheses is fully reviewed. Several experiments are shown to be flawed in their design and statistical analysis. The two clearest experiments do not support the 'parental quality' hypothesis, and in one case are in accordance with the 'restraint' hypothesis. There is an urgent need for further experimental work.
Models of sexual selection and monogamy the study organism male mating advantages benefits of mate choice determinants of tail ornament size advantages of early arrival options for unmated males parasites and sexual selection parental care and male ornamentation sperm competition and sexual selection sexual size dimorphism and female ornaments geographic variation in ornament size synthesis.
The house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) is a sexually dichromatic passerine in which males display colorful plumage and females are generally drab brown. Some females, however, have a subdued version of the same pattern of ornamental coloration seen in males. In previous research, I found that female house finches use male coloration as an important criterion when choosing mates and that the plumage brightness of males is a reliable indicator of male nest attentiveness. Male house finches invest substantially in the care of young and, like females, stand to gain by choosing high-quality mates. I therefore hypothesized that a female's plumage brightness might be correlated with her quality and be the basis for male mate choice. In laboratory mate choice experiments, male house finches showed a significant preference for the most brightly plumaged females presented. Observations of a wild population of house finches, however, suggest that female age is the primary criterion in male choice and that female plumage coloration is a secondary criterion. In addition, yearling females tended to have more brightly colored plumage than older females, and there was no relationship between female plumage coloration and overwinter survival, reproductive success, or condition. These observations fail to support the idea that female plumage coloration is an indicator of individual quality. Male mate choice for brightly plumaged females may have evolved as a correlated response to selection on females to choose brightly colored males.