Title
Melanin- and carotenoid-dependent signals of great tits (**Parus major**) relate differently to metal pollution
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
Berlin ,
Subject
Biology
Source (journal)
Die Naturwissenschaften / Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften [München] - Berlin
Volume/pages
95(2008) :10 , p. 969-973
ISSN
0028-1042
ISI
000259737600010
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Due to their high phenotypic plasticity, the expression of secondary sexual characteristics is particularly sensitive to stress. Here, we investigated the expression of two conspicuous visual signals in great tits (Parus major) in a metal pollution gradient. In three study sites with marked differences in metal contamination (mainly lead, cadmium, copper and zinc), we compared melanin and carotenoid colouration of great tits. While carotenoid colouration (yellow breast) was negatively related to metal pollution, the size of a melanin trait (breast stripe) was larger in the most polluted sites. Environmental pollutants not only affect the expression of conspicuous signals but may even enhance, directly or indirectly, a signal of male quality such as breast stripe. Our results also support the multiple messages hypothesis predicting that different signals highlight different aspects of geno- and phenotypic condition of the bearer.
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