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Decoding colouration of begging traits by the experimental addition of the appetite enhancer cyproheptadine hydrochloride in magpie (Pica pica) nestlings

AuthorsMartín Gálvez, David ; Soler, Juan José
Issue Date16-Aug-2016
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationJournal of avian biology
AbstractThe colouration of some traits in nestlings of altricial birds may influence parental food allocation as it may reflect physical condition or hunger. There is increasing evidence of the relationship between colouration of begging traits and nestling performance. However, evidence of the influence of hunger level on nestling colouration is scarce, mainly because of difficulty of distinguishing between the effects of physical condition and hunger levels. Here, we used the appetite stimulant cyproheptadine hydrochloride to increase the sensation of hunger of magpie Pica pica nestlings for eight days and assessed the effect on the colouration of rictal flanges, mouth and body skin. We found that nestlings administered with cyproheptadine had flanges more conspicuous (chromatic visual contrast), more UV coloured and less yellow coloured than their control nestmates. Conversely, mouths of experimental nestlings were more yellow coloured and less UV coloured than controls. Our pharmacological experiment afected the strength of the relationship between body mass and some colour components of body skin (chromatic and achromatic visual contrasts, UV – chroma and yellow – chroma) and of rictal flanges (chromatic visual contrasts, UV – chroma and yellow – chroma), but not for mouth colouration. These results taken together suggest that the effect of the cyproheptadine on nestling colourations is probably mediated by an increase in hunger levels of nestlings for rictal flanges and body skin colourations, and by an increase in physical condition in the case of mouth coloration.
DescriptionData available from the Dryad Digital Repository: < http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.768vg > (Martín-Gálvez and Soler 2016)
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jav.00641
Appears in Collections:(EEZA) Artículos
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