Discrimination of signal carotenoid content using multidimensional chromatic information

Pike, Thomas W. (2018) Discrimination of signal carotenoid content using multidimensional chromatic information. Behavioral Ecology, 29 (1). pp. 87-92. ISSN 1045-2249


Request a copy
[img] PDF
arx136.pdf - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Red, orange, and yellow carotenoid-based ornaments, which are widely used as sexual signals in many birds, fish, and reptiles, are known to exhibit multidimensional chromatic variation as a result of both the concentration and relative proportions of different constituent carotenoids with differing spectral properties. This is thought to reflect intrinsic variation in signaler quality, making it a useful basis for female choice. However, whether females are able to discriminate relevant variation in carotenoid concentration and/or composition independently of each other, and of other phenotypic or behavior traits, and if so, how this mediates their choice, is poorly understood. Here, female 3-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) were presented with computer-animated courting males that varied exclusively in the appearance of their carotenoid-based coloration; specifically, each male’s signal provided a perceptual match for carotenoid coloration expressed by live males with known underlying carotenoid content, thereby providing a biologically-relevant signal while precluding confounding traits influencing female choice. Females were able to discriminate between prospective mates solely on the basis of perceived variation in the allocation of carotenoids to males’ sexual signals, and exhibited a strong preference for males with coloration indicative of higher concentrations of carotenoids in their signal, rather than in response to perceived variation in the relative proportion of constituent carotenoids. This has important implications for our understanding of male signaling strategies and the information content of carotenoid-based sexual signals.

Keywords:astaxanthin, courtship, multicomponent signal, virtual stimuli
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
Related URLs:
ID Code:29541
Deposited On:24 Nov 2017 14:44

Repository Staff Only: item control page