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Experimental manipulation shows that the white wing patch in collared flycatchers is a male sexual ornament
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6566-2863
2011 (English)In: Ecology and Evolution, ISSN 2045-7758, E-ISSN 2045-7758, Vol. 1, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Descriptive analysis suggests that a conspicuous white wing patch in dichromatic (black and white) pied and collared flycatchers is under sexual selection. Here, we use an experimental approach to test whether this trait is indeed the target of selection. We caught 100 collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis males soon after their arrival on the breeding site. We reduced (blackened) part of the white wing patch in half of these males and recorded their mating success and within and extra-pair offspring production. Reduction of the size of the white wing patch lowered a male's probability to attract a secondary social female, but not a primary female. However, primary females paired to males with a reduced wing patch were smaller (in tarsus), suggesting that male choice of partner or female-female competition over mates occurs in this species. The probability of pairing with a primary female (but not other components of male reproductive success) declined with arrival time (proxied by the date of capture). Males with a reduced wing patch size tended to sire less extra-pair offspring, although this relationship was reversed in one of the three study plots, suggesting that mating dynamics are context dependent. While our findings show that wing patch size is the target of sexual selection, the pathways and the strength of selection on this ornament differed markedly from a previous descriptive study. Nonexperimental studies of sexual selection in the wild may overestimate its importance because male fitness and ornamentation both depend positively on environmental conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 1, no 4
Keyword [en]
Bird, extra-pair paternity, mate choice, polygeny, sexual selection
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-260052DOI: 10.1002/ece3.48ISI: 000312441500009PubMedID: 22393521OAI: diva2:846234
Available from: 2015-08-14 Created: 2015-08-14 Last updated: 2016-04-19Bibliographically approved

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Gustafsson, LarsBrommer, Jon E.
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