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Female ornaments in the Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca : associations with age, health and reproductive success

AuthorsMorales, Judith ; Moreno Klemming, Juan ; Merino, Santiago ; Sanz, Juan José ; Tomás, Gustavo ; Arriero, Elena; Lobato, Elisa ; Martínez de la Puente, Josué
Issue Date2007
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationIbis 149: 245-254 (2007)
AbstractFemale ornamentation has received little attention in studies of sexual selection. Traditionally, female ornaments have been explained as a genetically correlated response to selection in males. However, recent findings suggest that female ornaments may be adaptive. Southern populations of Pied Flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca are suited for studies of female ornamentation because, in addition to the white wing patch, some females also express the white forehead patch characteristic of males. We thus addressed the associations of these two ornaments with female age and with some health and breeding parameters in a Spanish population of Pied Flycatchers. Female ornament expression was not associated with haemoparasite prevalences, clutch size or parental provisioning effort. However, females expressing the white forehead patch raised more fledglings, and females with larger wing patches bred earlier, had higher number of hatchlings and showed increased levels of total serum immunoglobulins. Thus, these two unrelated epigamic ornaments may indicate some aspects of female quality. Further experimental studies could test the possibility that these plumage traits might function as signals to the males or might be used during female–female aggressive encounters in competition for nest-sites and mates.
Publisher version (URL)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.2006.00635.x/full
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