Blue, not UV, plumage color is important in satin bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceus display

Authors

  • Jean-François Savard,

  • Jason Keagy,

  • Gerald Borgia


J-F. Savard (jsavard@umd.edu) and Gerald Borgia, Dept of Biology, Biology/Psychology Building, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 20742, USA. – J. Keagy and G. B., Program in Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (BEES), Biology/Psychology Building, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 20742, USA.

Abstract

Several studies have suggested that peak plumage reflectance in birds matches color preferences used in mate choice. We tested this hypothesis in adult satin bowerbird males that have a short-wavelength saturated blue-black plumage with a peak reflectance in the UV. We found that the chroma of the blue (405–480 nm), but not the peak reflecting UV (320–400 nm) portion of the male plumage spectrum was significantly correlated with male mating success. A plot of correlation coefficients between male mating success and plumage saturation showed a well-defined peak in the blue. This suggests that: 1) blue plumage coloration is more important in mate choice than UV or other colors, and 2) that there is a mismatch between the peak reflectance of the plumage of male satin bowerbirds and the range of plumage wavelengths that are correlated with male mating success. This indicates that it is not safe to infer a role of UV or other colors in mate choice simply because of a peak in plumage reflectance.

Ancillary