Different roles of natural and sexual selection on senescence of plumage colour in the barn swallow
Article first published online: 31 OCT 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 British Ecological Society
Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 302–309, April 2009
How to Cite
Galván, I. and Møller, A. P. (2009), Different roles of natural and sexual selection on senescence of plumage colour in the barn swallow. Functional Ecology, 23: 302–309. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01504.x
- Issue published online: 13 MAR 2009
- Article first published online: 31 OCT 2008
- Received 24 April 2008; accepted 6 October 2008; Handling Editor: Gary Bortolotti
- barn swallow;
- sexual selection
- 1Colour may show effects of senescence because the pigment or structures involved in production of colouration deteriorate with age.
- 2We tested this hypothesis by investigating age-related changes in plumage colour for two feather tracts coloured by eumelanin or pheomelanin in a longitudinal study of a cohort of barn swallows Hirundo rustica that reached very old age (at least 5 years).
- 3The level of melanization of the throat increased with age in both sexes, but particularly in females. In contrast, the black colour of the plumage of the back was unrelated to age in both sexes.
- 4These age-dependent patterns of colouration of different feather tracts of male and female barn swallows suggest that effects of senescence are trait-specific depending on their importance in sexual signalling. The red throat colour based on pheomelanin is involved in sexual selection, with a strong effect in males, but not in females. In contrast, the black colour of the back based on eumelanin is unrelated to sexual selection, but is under natural selection due to intense abrasion of this feather tract.
- 5These findings suggest that the relative importance of natural and sexual selection are important determinants of the pattern and rate of senescence of colour.