Article: article from journal or magazin.
Selection on a eumelanic ornament is stronger in the tropics than in temperate zones in the worldwide-distributed barn owl.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Spatial variation in the pattern of natural selection can promote local adaptation and genetic differentiation between populations. Because heritable melanin-based ornaments can signal resistance to environmentally mediated elevation in glucocorticoids, to oxidative stress and parasites, populations may vary in the mean degree of melanic coloration if selection on these phenotypic aspects varies geographically. Within a population of Swiss barn owls (Tyto alba), the size of eumelanic spots is positively associated with survival, immunity and resistance to stress, but it is yet unknown whether Tyto species that face stressful environments evolved towards a darker eumelanic plumage. Because selection regimes vary along environmental gradients, we examined whether melanin-based traits vary clinally and are expressed to a larger extent in the tropics where parasites are more abundant than in temperate zones. To this end, we considered 39 barn owl species distributed worldwide. Barn owl species living in the tropics displayed larger eumelanic spots than those found in temperate zones. This was, however, verified in the northern hemisphere only. Parasites being particularly abundant in the tropics, they may promote the evolution of darker eumelanic ornaments.
Animals, Beak/anatomy & histology, Female, Male, Melanins/physiology, Pigmentation/physiology, Selection, Genetic, Species Specificity, Strigiformes/anatomy & histology, Strigiformes/genetics, Tropical Climate
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