Ornaments and condition: plumage patch sizes, nutritional reserve state, reserve accumulation, and reserve depletion

Gergely Hegyi, Susanne Jenni-Eiermann, Nóra Boross, László Zsolt Garamszegi, Miklós Laczi, Dóra Kötél, Katalin Krenhardt, Mónika Jablonszky, Gábor Markó, Gergely Nagy, Balázs Rosivall, Eszter Szász, János Török

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Abstract: Condition-dependence is considered as a dominant mechanism ensuring the fitness benefits of continued mate choice for heritable sexual signal traits, but crucial questions remain concerning the underlying physiological pathways. For example, it is unclear whether condition-dependence is mediated by the different amount of resource obtained, some uncheatable functional link with nutritional status, or the adverse effect of nutritional stress experienced by some individuals. Furthermore, the pattern of change in nutritional reserves in relation to ornamental traits has recently been proposed as a critical pillar of the condition-dependence concept, but this pattern is virtually unknown in natural populations. We quantified separate measures for actual body condition, lipid reserve accumulation rate, and lipid reserve depletion, and applied these measures to two white plumage ornaments of male collared flycatchers during courtship, during nestling rearing, and before the summer moult. Neither actual condition nor reserve accumulation rate before moult predicted the subsequent change of ornament sizes, but reserve depletion was accompanied by the reduction of forehead patch size to the following year. Wing patch size, a trait important in territoriality, was negatively related to both reserve accumulation and reserve depletion in the courtship period, but not related to current condition. Finally, irrespective of breeding phase, measures of current condition, and recent nutritional reserve depletion were negatively correlated, but both were unrelated to resource accumulation rate. These results indicate that measuring nutritional reserve trajectories in addition to actual condition may reveal functionally important processes underlying signal-condition correlations. Significance statement: Ornamental signal characters are known to convey honest information to signal receivers through their dependence on nutritional condition. Here, we show that such signals can also indicate the temporal trends of condition. We examine plumage patch sizes and separate measures of actual condition, nutritional reserve accumulation, and nutritional reserve depletion in three contexts: during courtship, during nestling rearing, and before the summer moult. The results suggest nutritional stress effects on signal expression, and predictable reserve dynamics in relation to signal expression, thereby highlighting the usefulness of dynamic nutritional measures in clarifying the fundamental concept of condition-dependent signalling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume73
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019

Keywords

  • Beta-hydroxy-butyrate
  • Ficedula albicollis
  • Sexual selection
  • Signal deterioration
  • Triglyceride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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    Hegyi, G., Jenni-Eiermann, S., Boross, N., Garamszegi, L. Z., Laczi, M., Kötél, D., Krenhardt, K., Jablonszky, M., Markó, G., Nagy, G., Rosivall, B., Szász, E., & Török, J. (2019). Ornaments and condition: plumage patch sizes, nutritional reserve state, reserve accumulation, and reserve depletion. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 73(6), [89]. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-019-2701-0