IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The sexual signals of the East-Mediterranean barn swallow: a different swallow tale

Listed author(s):
  • Yoni Vortman
  • Arnon Lotem
  • Roi Dor
  • Irby J. Lovette
  • Rebecca J. Safran
Registered author(s):

    The differential functions of distinct morphological traits as sexual signals among closely related populations are associated with a potential role of sexual selection in population divergence and speciation. The cosmopolitan barn swallow Hirundo rustica complex consists of 6 subspecies, which differ substantially in tail streamer length and ventral coloration. Two of these subspecies--the European and North American subspecies--have been extensively studied. Though they are closely related, differentially exaggerated traits in these two subspecies appear to be the result of stronger sexual selection on tail length in Europe and ventral color in North America. The nonmigratory East-Mediterranean subspecies H. r. transitiva possesses both elongated long tail streamers and dark (brown-red) ventral coloration. We explored whether the expression of both traits is related to their potential role as sexual signals. In males, dark ventral coloration was the strongest predictor of breeding success, whereas tail streamer length was related to early breeding, and the likelihood of having multiple broods within a season. Older males, which typically have long streamers, were also less likely to have extrapair young in their nests. Tail streamer length and not ventral coloration predicted the breeding success of females. Considered in concert with earlier work on other populations, these findings show how patterns of phenotypic variation in the barn swallow species complex are underlain by differential sexual selection on tail length and ventral color, traits used variably among populations in mate choice and paternity decisions. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

    Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 6 ()
    Pages: 1344-1352

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:6:p:1344-1352
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

    Fax: 01865 267 985
    Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:6:p:1344-1352. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.