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Ornament size and symmetry: Is the tail a reliable signal of mal quality in the red-collared widowbird?

Goddard, Keith W. and Lawes, Michael J. (2000). Ornament size and symmetry: Is the tail a reliable signal of mal quality in the red-collared widowbird?. The Auk,117(2):366-372.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Ornament size and symmetry: Is the tail a reliable signal of mal quality in the red-collared widowbird?
Author Goddard, Keith W.
Lawes, Michael J.
Journal Name The Auk
Publication Date 2000
Volume Number 117
Issue Number 2
ISSN 0004-8038   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 366
End Page 372
Total Pages 7
Place of Publication Untited States of America
Publisher American Ornithologists' Union
Field of Research 0608 - Zoology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) may provide a direct test of whether sexual selection via "arbitrary traits" or "good genes" is responsible for the evolution of epigamic traits, because FA is an epigenetic measure of stress during development. However, tests of the FA hypothesis have yielded equivocal results, and the debate between arbitrary traits and good genes continues. The FA hypothesis predicts a negative relationship between ornament size and asymmetry. In non-ornamental traits, a U-shaped relationship between trait size and asymmetry is expected. We tested these predictions in the Red-collared Widowbird (Euplectes ardens) by examining the relationship between size and asymmetry in the length of the tail, tarsus, and wing. We found no significant linear or second-order polynomial relationships between trait size and asymmetry. Furthermore, no relationship existed between asymmetry and two indices of body condition. This suggests that the tail is not a reliable signal of male quality in the Red-collared Widowbird. However, we argue that the assumptions of the FA hypothesis are too simplistic for this conclusion to be drawn with a high degree of confidence.

Received 13 May 1998, accepted 20 August 1999.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4089718   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)


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