Natural and sexual selection on a plumage signal of status and on morphology in house sparrows, Passer domesticus



Temporal patterns of natural and sexual selection on male badge size and body traits were studied in a population of house sparrows, Passer domesticus. Badge size was a heritable trait as revealed by a significant father-son regression. Survival during autumn dispersal and winter was not related to badge size or body traits in yearling male house sparrows. Badges that signal dominance status were affected positively by directional selection for mating. Adult male house sparrows suffered an opposing selection pressure on badge size during autumn.

Contrary to males, female house sparrows did not experience significant directional or stabilizing selection on any body trait. Directional sexual selection on male badge size due to female choice moves male sparrows away from their survival optimum. Opposing directional natural selection on badge size due to autumn mortality caused by predation maintains a stable badge size.