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Experimental evidence that egg color indicates female condition at laying in a songbird

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Author Info

  • Juan Moreno
  • Elisa Lobato
  • Judith Morales
  • Santiago Merino
  • Gustavo Tomás
  • Josué Martínez-de la Puente
  • Juan J. Sanz
  • Rafael Mateo
  • Juan J. Soler
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    Abstract

    The signaling hypothesis of eggshell coloration in birds is based on the assumption that females of species with blue-green eggs signal their phenotypic quality to their mates through deposition of the antioxidant biliverdin as pigment. Egg pigmentation may be an expression of the condition of females at laying or of genetic linkages between egg color and female performance variables. We have supplemented 16 pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca, females with mealworms before and during laying and compared the mass and color of their eggs as measured on the day of laying to those of 16 control females with the same nest construction and laying dates and clutch sizes. Supplemented females laid significantly heavier and more intensely blue-green eggs than control females. Egg blue-green chroma was significantly associated with the amount of biliverdin in eggshells. Egg color, and thus biliverdin content, is an expression of female condition at laying. Copyright 2006.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/beheco/ark014
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by International Society for Behavioral Ecology in its journal Behavioral Ecology.

    Volume (Year): 17 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 4 (July)
    Pages: 651-655

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:17:y:2006:i:4:p:651-655

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    Related research

    Keywords: biliverdin; color analysis; egg coloration; eggshell pigments; female condition; food supplement; nutrition; phenotypic quality; sexual selection; signaling;

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