Melanin-based colour polymorphism signals aggressive personality in nest and territory defence in the tawny owl (Strix aluco)

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Version: Final published version
Serval ID
serval:BIB_F43143D18826
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Title
Melanin-based colour polymorphism signals aggressive personality in nest and territory defence in the tawny owl (Strix aluco)
Journal
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Author(s)
Da Silva A., van den Brink V., Emaresi G., Luzio E., Bize P., Dreiss A.N., Roulin A.
ISSN
0340-5443
Publication state
Published
Issued date
2013
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Volume
67
Number
7
Pages
1041-1052
Language
english
Abstract
Nest and territory defence are risky and potentially dangerous behaviours. If the resolution of life history trade-offs differs between individuals, the level of defence may also vary among individuals. Because melanin-based colour traits can be associated with life history strategies, differently coloured individuals may display different nest and territory defence strategies. We investigated this issue in the colour polymorphic tawny owl (Strix aluco) for which plumage varies from dark to light reddish melanic. Accordingly, we found that (1) our presence induced a greater response (flying around) from dark-coloured than light-coloured females and (2) dark reddish males suffered lower nest predation rates than light-coloured males. In experimentally enlarged broods, the probability that females reacted after we played back the hoot calls of a stranger male was higher if these females were lighter reddish; the opposite pattern was found in experimentally reduced broods with dark parents being more reactive than light parents. Finally, darker females alarmed more frequently when paired with a light than with a dark male, suggesting that partners adjust their behaviour to each other. We also tested whether colouration is used as a signal by conspecifics to adjust the level of their defensive behaviour. Accordingly, breeding females responded more vigorously to a dark than a light reddish stuffed tawny owl placed beside their nest. We conclude that melanin-based colouration is a signal of alternative nest and territory defence behaviour that depends on ecological factors.
Keywords
Nest defence, Colour polymorphism, Personality, Pheomelanin, Predation
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Create date
09/03/2013 21:57
Last modification date
20/08/2019 17:21
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