Published on Sun Sep 26 2021

GLOBAL PATTERNS OF PLUMAGE COLOUR EVOLUTION IN ISLAND-LIVING PASSERIFORM BIRDS

Mahoney, S. M., Oud, M. D., Pageau, C., Argollo de Menezes, M., Smith, N., Briskie, J. V., Reudink, M. W.

Plumage coloration is an important trait involved communication and is shaped by a variety of ecological pressures. Island residency has the potential to change the evolutionary trajectory of plumage colour. Latitude, island size, and isolation may further influence colour evolution by biasing colonization.

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Abstract

Plumage coloration is an important trait involved communication and is shaped by a variety of ecological pressures. Island residency has the potential to change the evolutionary trajectory of plumage colour by differences in habitat and resources, or by altering predation pressure and social selection intensity. Latitude, island size, and isolation may further influence colour evolution by biasing colonization. Therefore, general patterns of plumage evolution are difficult to disentangle. We used phylogenetically controlled analyses to assess the influence of island residency on plumage colouration, by calculating chromaticity values from red, blue, green scores extracted from photos of Order Passeriformes birds. Importantly, we controlled for ecological factors hypothesized to influence colour evolution and assessed family-level effects. We found 1) colour varied between islands and mainlands in females, but not males, and both sexes were affected by several ecological factors; 2) patterns of colour evolution varied among families; 3) island size and distance to the mainland and other islands significantly influenced colour; and 4) interactions between ecological factors and latitude were consistently influenced colour, supporting a latitudinal gradient hypothesis. Our results indicate although island residency influences female colour evolution, a myriad of ecological factors drive plumage colour and the patterns vary among families.