Evol Ecol Res 8: 483-491 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Ultraviolet reflectance in a melanin-based plumage trait is heritable

Isabelle Py,1 Anne-Lyse Ducrest,1 Nadège Duvoisin,2 Luca Fumagalli2 and Alexandre Roulin1*

1Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore and  2Laboratory for Conservation Biology, Biophore, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: alexandre.roulin@unil.ch


Question: Is ultraviolet (UV) reflectance of melanin-based plumage ornaments heritable?

Data studied: We considered the barn owl (Tyto alba), a species that varies continuously from white to reddish-brown, a pheomelanin-based trait.

Methods: To perform a partial cross-fostering experiment, we exchanged one to three hatchlings between 16 pairs of nests with a similar hatching date. This experiment allocated hatchlings randomly among rearing environments. Forty-nine days later, we collected three feathers per individual to measure UV reflectance.

Conclusions: The cross-fostering experiment showed that, independently of human-visible coloration, variation in UV reflectance is significantly sensitive to origin-related factors.

Keywords: colour polymorphism, heritability, melanin, plumage coloration, sex determination, structural coloration, Tyto alba, ultraviolet reflectance.

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        © 2006 Alexandre Roulin. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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