The signal function of a melanin-based plumage ornament in Golden-winged Warblers

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Date: June 2008
From: The Wilson Journal of Ornithology(Vol. 120, Issue 2)
Publisher: Wilson Ornithological Society
Document Type: Report
Length: 2,485 words
Lexile Measure: 1370L

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Abstract :

The decline of Golden-winged Warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera) has been attributed in part to hybridization with a sister species, the Blue-winged Warbler (V. pinus), which lacks the black throat patch typical of the Golden-winged Warbler. Understanding the signal function of male plumage ornaments in Golden-winged Warblers may provide insight into the mechanisms driving hybridization. If Golden-winged Warbler males use the black throat patch for interspecific signaling, Blue-winged Warblers or hybrids may be leading hybridization between the species. We examined the signal function of the melanin-based throat patch in a population of Golden-winged Warblers on the edge of the hybrid zone. Males with increased ultra violet chroma in their throat patches were older and their mates had significantly earlier first egg dates. This suggests the black throat patch of Golden-winged Warblers may be an age-related indicator of quality. Female Golden-winged Warblers should not mate preferentially with males which lack the black throat patch if it functions as an indicator of age and or male quality.

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Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A180101089