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Title

Sexual and natural selection in the evolution of extended phenotypes: the use of green nesting material in starlings

AuthorsRubalcaba, Juan G.; Polo, Vicente ; Maia, R.; Rubenstein, D. R.; Veiga, José Pablo
KeywordsGreen nesting material
Sexual selection
Starlings
Natural selection
Courtship
Issue DateAug-2016
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationJournal of Evolutionary Biology 29(8): 1585-1592 (2016)
AbstractAlthough sexual selection is typically considered the predominant force driving the evolution of ritualized sexual behaviours, natural selection may also play an important and often underappreciated role. The use of green aromatic plants among nesting birds has been interpreted as a component of extended phenotype that evolved either via natural selection due to potential sanitary functions or via sexual selection as a signal of male attractiveness. Here, we compared both hypotheses using comparative methods in starlings, a group where this behaviour is widespread. We found that the use of green plants was positively related to male-biased size dimorphism and that it was most likely to occur among cavity-nesting species. These results suggest that this behaviour is likely favoured by sexual selection, but also related to its sanitary use in response to higher parasite loads in cavities. We speculate that the use of green plants in starlings may be facilitated by cavity nesting and was subsequently co-opted as a sexual signal by males. Our results represent an example of how an extended phenotypic component of males becomes sexually selected by females. Thus, both natural selection and sexual selection are necessary to fully understand the evolution of ritualized behaviours involved in courtship.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12893
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/191427
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/jeb.12893
issn: 1010-061X
e-issn: 1420-9101
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