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Juvenile plumage whiteness is associated with the evolution of clutch size in passerines

AuthorsMorales, Judith ; Cuervo, José Javier ; Moreno, Juan; Soler, Juan José
KeywordsClutch size
Intrabrood conflict
Juvenile signals
Parent–offspring conflict
Plumage color
Predation risk
Issue Date30-Apr-2019
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationBehavioral Ecology arz058 (2019)
AbstractThe offspring of many animals are conspicuous during parental dependence, despite juveniles generally suffering from high predation risk. However, to date, it is unclear whether offspring structural ornaments play a role in intrafamily communication. This is the case of conspicuous plumage in young birds, which is worn unchanged during a long period after fledging, when they still depend on their parents. If plumage color facilitates intrafamily interactions, its role should be more important in large-brooded species, where the strength of intrafamily conflict is potentially stronger. We therefore performed a comparative study in 210 passerine bird species to test whether an offspring structural trait, white plumage, evolves more frequently in lineages with larger clutches. We also explored the number of broods raised per year as another source of intrafamily conflict. First, we found that juvenile whiteness was more frequent in open-nesting species. Moreover, in agreement with our prediction, the presence of juvenile white tail/wing patches was strongly and positively associated with clutch size. This relationship was not due to the strong resemblance between offspring and adult plumage, which was controlled for in the statistical analyses. Moreover, the association remained significant after taking into account predation risk, for which there was information for a subset of species. In contrast, juvenile whiteness was not associated with the number of broods raised per year. These results may suggest that the evolution of juvenile conspicuousness is favored in species with potentially stronger intrabrood sibling conflict.
Publisher version (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/beheco/arz058
Appears in Collections:(EEZA) Artículos
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