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Factors influencing the evolution of moult in the non-breeding season: insights from the family Motacillidae

AuthorsGuallar, Santiago; Figuerola, Jordi
Autumn moult
Moult strategies
Moult topography
Prealter-nate moult
Issue Date30-Jun-2016
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationBiological Journal of the Linnean Society 118(4): 774-785 (2016)
AbstractThe number of moults per annual cycle and their final spatial pattern (i.e. topography) show high interspecific variation in the order Passeriformes. Factors behind this variability remain obscure, especially for variability in spatial pattern among species. Here, we explored the relative influence of ten ecological, ontogenetic, social and sexual factors on the evolution of autumn moult (feather replacement largely undertaken by migratory species, which is not necessarily an independent episode within their moult cycle) and prealternate moult among Northern Hemisphere species of the family Motacillidae using phylogenetically controlled analyses, ancestral state reconstruction and analyses of correlated evolution. The results strongly support the presence of prealternate moult and absence of autumn moult as ancestral states in this family. A high rate of change between related species indicates phylogenetic independence among prealternate moult patterns and examined factors. Migration distance and gregariousness are the most important factors influencing prealternate moult evolution, and point toward natural selection and sociality as the most important evolutionary drivers of prealternate moult in Motacillidae. Breeding latitude, seasonal plumage change, winter plumage conspicuousness, sexual dichromatism, plumage maturation and extent of preformative moult show a minor influence, and suggest that ontogeny and sexual selection may have played a limited role in shaping prealternate moult in Motacillidae.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/bij.12784
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