Journal article

Female and male plumage colour signals aggression in a dichromatic tropical songbird

Ana Leitao, Michelle L Hall, Kaspar Delhey, Raoul A Mulder

Animal Behaviour | ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD | Published : 2019


Animal signals of competitive ability allow contests for limited resources to be settled without costly physical fights. Traits indicating competitive ability are diverse and span visual, acoustic or chemical modalities. Although animal signalling has been intensively studied, research has focused mainly on male traits. Little is known about the extent and functionality of competitive signals in females and whether there are sex differences in signal function. We studied whether plumage colour signals competitive ability in female and male lovely fairy-wrens, Malurus amabilis. In this species, both sexes sport elaborate but sexually dichromatic ornamental plumage. Using a mirror image stimul..

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Awarded by Australia & Pacific Science Foundation

Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We are grateful to R. Shepperd, P. Chaon, G. Marini, Z. Zelazny, L. Nelson and I. Mestre for field assistance and scoring videos over the 2015 and 2016 seasons and B. Venables for his support during field work. We thank M. Elgar for the spectrophotometer and useful feedback on the project, O. Branquinho for helping with the figures, P. De Geest for providing bird photos, the Mulder Lab, K. Meyers and J. Macdonald for helpful discussions that improved this work, and I. Leitao and C. Funghi for comments on the manuscript. We also thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their suggestions on the manuscript. This research was supported by University of Melbourne, Cairns Airport and Cairns Council and grants from the Australia & Pacific Science Foundation (APSF1406), the Australian Research Council (DP150101652) and Birdlife Australia (2015).