The roles of ecological factors and sexual selection in the evolution of white wing patches in ducks

G. Hegyi, László Zsolt Garamszegi, Marcel Eens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most studies of the evolution of sexual ornamentation have dealt with plumage attributes. White plumage patches are widespread in birds, the disproportionate role of wearing costs makes their evolutionary trajectories unique, and their visual assessment is less biased than that of other color categories. Still, comparative studies of white patches are very rare. We examined the evolution of white wing patches in ducks (Anatinae), assessing both sex-specific trait expression and dichromatism. Habitat openness, nest site (cavity or open), or the length of the incubation period did not predict white patch expression. Patch size on the wing coverts of females increased with parental care contribution by males. Covert patch size relative to the wing surface was positively related to body size in males, suggesting a role in sexual competition. White wing patch expression was unrelated to the frequency of social mate change or testis size, a measure of general sperm competition intensity. However, covert patch size in both sexes showed strong negative correlation with the phallus length of males, an indicator of the prevalence of forced copulations. Further studies are needed to clarify the role of flight feather patches and the factors that limit the exaggeration of white wing patches in this and other groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1208-1216
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Fingerprint

sexual selection
ducks
patch size
plumage
sperm competition
gender
ornamentation
parental care
nest site
copulation
feather
nesting sites
feathers
trajectories
body size
comparative study
testes
cavity
flight
incubation

Keywords

  • Anatinae
  • Forced copulation
  • Intrasexual competition
  • Parental care
  • Predation
  • Social mating system
  • White plumage ornament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Cite this

The roles of ecological factors and sexual selection in the evolution of white wing patches in ducks. / Hegyi, G.; Garamszegi, László Zsolt; Eens, Marcel.

In: Behavioral Ecology, Vol. 19, No. 6, 2008, p. 1208-1216.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hegyi, G. ; Garamszegi, László Zsolt ; Eens, Marcel. / The roles of ecological factors and sexual selection in the evolution of white wing patches in ducks. In: Behavioral Ecology. 2008 ; Vol. 19, No. 6. pp. 1208-1216.
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