Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Avian Biology Research

Volume

11

Issue

1

Publisher

Science Reviews 2000

Publication Date

2-2018

First Page

54

Last Page

61

DOI

10.3184/175815617X15063340995383

Abstract

Nuptial plumage colouration is seemingly favoured by females of avian species with regards to sexual selection. This particular secondary sexual characteristic has been previously shown to be a condition-dependent signal of individual quality among passerines with pigment-based colouration (i.e. yellows and reds). In contrast, relationships between structural plumage colouration (i.e. blues) and aspects of both physical quality and physiological function have been understudied. Using free-living Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea) as a study species, we compared the percentage of blue feather coverage to body condition, innate immune responses, antioxidant capacity, stress physiology, reproductive physiology, and parasitism. We found the overall percentage of blue feathers on individual birds to be positively correlated with testosterone levels and body condition, while negatively correlated with heterophil to lymphocyte ratio. Birds with more blue coverage were also less likely to harbour blood parasites. Our results indicate male Indigo Buntings with greater moult investment have better overall body condition, lower stress, increased testosterone levels, and decreased parasitic susceptibility.

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