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Title

Population differences in density and resource allocation of ornamental tail feathers in the barn swallow

AuthorsAparicio, José Miguel ; Muñoz, Alberto ; Bonal, Raúl
KeywordsFisherian process
Flight
Migration
Handicap
Sexual selection
Aerodynamics
Issue Date2012
PublisherLinnean Society of London
John Wiley & Sons
CitationBiological Journal of the Linnean Society 105(4): 925-936 (2012)
AbstractMany organisms show well-defined latitudinal clines in morphology, which appear to be caused by spatially varying natural selection, resulting in different optimal phenotypes in each location. Such spatial variability raises an interesting question, with different prospects for the action of sexual selection on characters that have a dual purpose, such as locomotion and sexual attraction. The outermost tail feathers of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) represent one such character, and their evolution has been a classic model subject to intense debate. In the present study, we examined individuals from four European populations to analyze geographical variation in the length and mass of tail feathers in relation to body size and wing size. Tail feather length differed between sexes and populations, and such variation was a result of the effects of natural selection, acting through differences in body size and wing size, as well as the effects of sexual selection that favours longer tails. The extra enlargement of the tail promoted by sexual selection (i.e. beyond the natural selection optimum) could be achieved by increasing investment in ornaments, and by modifying feather structure to produce longer feathers of lower density. These two separate processes accounting for the production of longer and more costly tail feathers and less dense feathers, respectively, are consistent with the hypothesis that both Zahavian and Fisherian mechanisms may be involved in the evolution of the long tails of male barn swallows. We hypothesize that the strength of sexual selection increases with latitude because of the need for rapid mating as a result of the short duration of the breeding season at high latitudes.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/143504
DOI10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01830.x
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01830.x
issn: 0024-4066
e-issn: 1095-8312
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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