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JOURNAL OF AVIAN BIOLOGY 34: 393401, 2003 Female colour polymorphism covaries with reproductive strategies
 

Summary: JOURNAL OF AVIAN BIOLOGY 34: 393401, 2003
Female colour polymorphism covaries with reproductive strategies
in the tawny owl Strix aluco
Alexandre Roulin, Bertrand Ducret, Pierre-Alain Ravussin and Res Altwegg
Roulin, A., Ducret, B., Ravussin, P.-A. and Altwegg, R. 2003. Female colour
polymorphism covaries with reproductive strategies in the tawny owl Strix aluco.
J. Avian Biol. 34: 393401.
Variation in coloration with a strong underlying genetic basis is frequently found in
birds, insects, anurans, molluscs and plants. Although such a variation can be large,
little is known about its functional value. Correlative data, however, can help suggest
testable hypotheses about potential covariation between reproductive parameters and
a colour polymorphism displayed by individuals belonging to a single population. In
this context, we studied two Swiss populations of tawny owls Strix aluco, a
polymorphic species that varies in coloration from reddish-brown to grey. Observa-
tions in the first population showed that although greyer females had shorter tarsi,
they produced heavier offspring in two of three years. Pairing with respect to
plumage coloration was not significantly disassortative, indicating that these correla-
tions were probably not inflated by plumage coloration of the mate. In the second
population, where breeding females had been monitored for 14 years, the proportion
of all breeding females that were reddish-brown was greater in years when the

  

Source: Altwegg, Res - Avian Demography Unit, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology